IVECO, FPT Industrial and Nikola Corporation announced on Dec. 2 the plans of the three companies' joint venture and collaboration agreement. Their goal is to accelerate industry transformation towards emissions neutrality of Class 8 heavy-duty trucks in North America and Europe through the adoption of fuel-cell technology.
This comes 3 months after CNH Industrial’s September 3 announcement of the strategic partnership with Nikola, involving its IVECO commercial vehicles brand and its powertrain division FPT Industrial.
The primary focus of the agreement is to leverage the partners’ respective expertise to successfully deploy zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and to disrupt the industry with a new business model.
The partnership includes the creation of a European joint venture to develop and distribute cab-over hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric trucks for the European market. Nikola will provide its class-leading fuel-cell expertise and advanced technologies, as well as its business model that foresees an all-inclusive lease rate. IVECO, together with FPT Industrial, will contribute their engineering and manufacturing expertise to industrialize the fuel-cell and battery electric trucks.
Hubertus M. Mühlhauser, CNH Industrial CEO, stated, “The increasing focus on the recognition that there needs to be fundamental reductions in automotive emissions is driving our industry to rapidly seek advanced technological solutions. This joint-venture with Nikola is testament to both partners technical expertise, which will result in tangible environmental benefits for Europe’s long distance hauliers.”
Gerrit Marx, CNH Industrial President Commercial and Specialty Vehicles, added, “Our industry is changing fast, driven by tightening emissions regulations and younger generations demanding the creation of a circular economy to preserve the environment for their future. Hydrogen and battery - depending on the mission - are the only viable solutions for green energy, and have the advantage of enabling nations to become more independent from fossil fuels. Now is the time to act and deliver a zero-emissions solution that relies on fuel-cell electric technology. We are embracing this technology early, and thoughtfully, as an opportunity to benefit from this approaching moment of technological discontinuity and start the proactive transformation of the transport sector.”
Trevor Milton, Nikola Motors CEO, concluded, “This partnership is a win-win for everyone involved. From the moment we launched the Nikola ONE in 2016, truck drivers and government officials have been asking for us to bring Nikola to Europe. The Nikola TRE is gorgeous and innovative and unlike any other truck in the world. We needed the right partner to help us enter the European market and CNH Industrial is the right commercial partner. While other OEMs are laying off tens of thousands of employees, Nikola is creating thousands of jobs and forcing the trucking industry to react and go zero emission. Look at what we have accomplished in three months, now imagine what we will accomplish in three years with CNH Industrial as our partner.”
Introduction of the Nikola TRE
The three companies also unveiled a preliminary model of the Nikola TRE during the event on Dec. 2—the theme of which was “3 2 1 0” to sum up the joint venture: Three, as in Nikola TRE; Two companies coming together to form One partnership sharing the final goal of zero emissions.
Nikola TRE is based on the recently launched IVECO S-WAY heavy-duty truck. It integrates Nikola's advanced electric technology and new-generation proprietary infotainment system.
Nikola worked with Turin-based Italdesign on the design integration; the companies first worked together on the initial Nikola TRE introduced during Nikola World in April 2019.
“The IVECO S-WAY is a stand-out product, which embodies IVECO’s concept of customer-centricity and has already gained momentum in the markets with well-deserved success. It is the bones of the Nikola TRE and marks the beginning of a new journey towards zero-emissions trucking, providing the platform for us to introduce disruptive features that will change the transport industry,” said Marx.
The model was a Nikola TRE 4x2 tractor for regional missions with a range of up to 400 km and dynamic performance equal or better than a diesel equivalent model.
It features a modular battery system with a total capacity of up to 720 kWh, which can be tailored to match different customers’ missions. The electric driveline will deliver 480 kW continuous power output with 1,800 Nm peak torque.
Annalisa Stupenengo, CNH Industrial President Powertrain and FPT Industrial CEO, stated, "FPT Industrial is investing in e-mobility, both on the basis of battery-electric propulsion and hydrogen Fuel Cells. When applying renewable energy sources, e-mobility is the only technology with the potential to be zero-carbon from well-to-wheel and also carbon-neutral from tank-to-wheel. Battery-electric vehicles are gaining share in light duty applications, while hydrogen fuel cells are anticipated to become a reality for heavy-duty applications and long distance haulage in the near future. For this reason, the partnership with Nikola Truck will further reinforce our fuel cell capability and support our leadership path in this technology.”
The Nikola TRE will also be available in 2- and 3-axle rigid versions, with GVW ranging from 18-26 tonnes for urban distribution and municipality missions.
A new infotainment system based on Nikola’s proprietary operating system integrates infotainment and navigation functions, as well as controls for the bulk of the vehicle’s functionalities. The system’s features include climate control, mirror adjustment, suspension height adjustment, 360-degree camera system, navigation, Bluetooth audio system, comprehensive vehicle settings and admin vehicle diagnostics.
The vehicle leverages Bluetooth low energy technology to create a secure link between the vehicle and the customer’s mobile device, creating a truly hands-free media experience. This also enables a smart keyless entry system to unlock as the driver approaches the vehicle. The system can even adjust settings such as ride height and climate temperature to driver preference.
IVECO, FPT Industrial and Nikola have adopted a modular approach in developing their electric offering for the European market, which is unique in the industry. Nikola’s fuel cell will be the starting point for the design of the electric battery, so that the Nikola TRE Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) can be converted to fuel-cell technology. With this approach, the partners are taking the long view, bringing both technologies on stream now to pursue BEV and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) in their offering in the next few years.
Testing is expected to begin in mid-2020, with the European public launch planned for the IAA 2020 commercial vehicle exhibition and Nikola World 2020. First units will be delivered to customers in 2021, while the FCEV will be available to customers by 2023. Sales and aftersales support of the Nikola TRE will be provided by IVECO’s widespread European dealer network.