Tesla Motors is all the rage after it made 325,000 reservations for the upcoming Model 3 just one week after its release. Meanwhile, a company called the Nikola Motor Company — much less known among the general public, but already making a name for itself in the trucking industry — announced more than 7,000 truck reservations with deposits for an electric class 8 semi-truck, dubbed “Nikola One.” That’s $2.3 billion in orders!
Transportation is finally being disrupted
Incredible. 2.3 billion dollars in pre-orders with deposits in one month. Press release going out. Let's change the world @elonmusk
— Nikola Motor Company (@nikolamotor) June 13, 2016
Nikola uses an annoying branding strategy that takes the first name of the man who went on to inspire the far more famous Tesla Motors. Effectively, the newly founded startup is looking to capitalize on Tesla Motors’ steam by imitating their strategy, mission, and even its name.
Well props to Tesla then, because I view it as a form of flattery. Elon Musk’s efforts to disrupt the transportation industry are paying off. His company is effectively changing the landscape with its all electric and far superior tech-wise products. So what if a startup wants in on the money? It just creates more disruption, which can only do good to an industry which is fundamentally the same as 50 years ago.
Nikola has two trucks currently available for pre-orders: the Nikola One and Nikola Zero. It’s the Nikola One that’s truly picked off.
“Our technology is 10-15 years ahead of any other OEM (original equipment manufacturer) in fuel efficiencies, MPG and emissions,” Nikola CEO Trevor Milton said in a press release. “We are the only OEM to have a near zero-emission truck and still outperform diesel trucks running at 80,000 pounds.”
“We believe we will pass the current market leaders like Daimler, PACCAR, Volvo and Navistar in sales orders within the next 12-24 months,”
The Nikola One, despite the hype, isn’t a fully electric truck — it’s a gas-electric hybrid. Its specs are super impressive, though. We’re looking at a 2,000 HP truck with a 1,200 miles range, a 6×6 power train, 320 KWH batteries (they use the same batteries like Tesla — no surprise), regenerative braking, 3,700 FT. LBS of torque and a clever turbine design that constantly charges the batteries as the truck drives. According to company officials, the Nikola One drives at half the cost of a diesel-powered counterpart.
The truck costs between $300,000 and $400,000 depending on the options, and leasing is available from $5,000. According to Nikola, the company has secured 7,000 orders which should make it a great profit — that’s if it ever fulfills them.
Reservations were made for only $1,500 so right now, the startup only made about $11 million. This means the company is in desperate need of capital, and they might just get the $300 million they’re looking for in an upcoming series A funding round.
For now, Nikola seems like an uneasy bet, but if their management is really serious about disrupting transportation, the industry only stands to win — and also the environment. Most goods, from food to electronics, are transported by freight trucks which account for 20 percent of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a company worth following, though don’t let the name fool you. They need to prove themselves before any fair comparison to Tesla Motors can be drawn, let alone the famous inventor who gave the world AC power.