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Anheuser-Busch Orders 800 Nikola Hydrogen-Electric Semi-Trucks: Where's Tesla?

Anheuser Busch will convert 100% of its dedicated fleet to sustainable sources by 2025. Nikola is the solution [for AB].

When I first commented on Nikola some readers emailed the technology was vaporware. Clearly it isn't.

Anheuser-Busch and Nikola Motor Company today announced that America’s leading brewer has placed an order for up to 800 hydrogen-electric powered semi-trucks from the pioneer in hydrogen-electric renewable technology.

The zero-emission trucks - which will be able to travel between 500 and 1,200 miles and be refilled within 20 minutes, reducing idle time - are expected to be integrated into Anheuser-Busch’s dedicated fleet beginning in 2020.

Through this agreement, Anheuser-Busch aims to convert its entire long-haul dedicated fleet to renewable powered trucks by 2025.

Nikola’s cutting-edge technology will enable the brewer to achieve this milestone across its long-haul loads, while also helping to improve road safety through the trucks’ advanced surround viewing system.

The order would be large when compared to pre-orders so far for Tesla Inc’s all-electric Semi and is further evidence that fleets needing to move cargo hundreds of miles are willing to give nascent, costlier technologies a try.

“Hydrogen-electric technology is the future of logistics and we’re proud to be leading the way,” added Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company.

“Anheuser-Busch has a long history of investing in progressive, sustainable technology and we are excited to partner with them to bring the largest hydrogen network in the world to the USA. By 2028, we anticipate having over 700 hydrogen stations across the USA and Canada. With nearly 9 billion dollars in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come.”

Nikola Not Driverless

Nikola is sorely lacking on one issue, and it's a key one: driverless. When I last called them, about two years ago, they had no plans for driverless.

Mish: “How does autonomous driving fit in?

Nikola: “It doesn’t“.

Mish: “In what timeframe will you have it?

Nikola: “We will announce that when we are ready.

Perhaps that's changed. I will give them another call next week.

Curious About the Name?

The truck is named after Nikola Tesla a Croatian-born electrical engineer.

Tesla vs Nikola

In contrast to firm orders and a real product, Elon Musk says Tesla Semi All-Electric Truck Arriving in September.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says his company will unveil its electric tractor-trailer truck this September, calling the vehicle “seriously next level” and praising the Tesla team for doing “an amazing job.”

He also revealed that Tesla will show off an electric pickup truck in “18 to 24 months,” and that the next Tesla roadster sports car will be a convertible.

We have heard Tesla promises before, and the hype always exceeds reality.

Competition is Good

Pot shots at Musk aside, competition is always good.

The market will sort this out.

Addendum

I get 120 characters for a summary. "Nikola is the solution [for AB]". I just added [for AB] using up 120 characters. I also need to add "for now" exceeding my character limit.

I do not propose this technology is any kind of global solution. But it could be. And readers should know that. I thought it was implied, especially when I mentioned Nikola had no self-driving plans. Nonetheless, two readers misinterpreted what I said, one I believe on purpose.

The problem I see is that one company or perhaps a few companies are working on hydrogen-electric hybrids but there are thousands working on electric.

It seems more likely that the major solution will come from the space where everyone automotive company is focused.

Regardless, self-driving is the future, especially of trucking.

Can multiple technologies be involved? Of course. But that also means we need hydrogen refill stations in addition to electric recharging stations.

As I said, "The market will sort this out." But there is still no mention of self-driving on the Nikola website.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

In effect a great deal of renewable wind energy is wasted at night but can run electrolysers to create fuel for storage or pumped into the Nat Gas grid. Nat Gas grid is then a massive battery. This is already being done in Germany. http://www.itm-power.com/sectors/power-to-gas-energy-storage With care Anheuser could go green for this transport element. Stranded wind power goes to waste otherwise. H2 can also be mixed with other fuels to help reduce noxious emissions and sometimes increase torque.

All company drivers, driving all company vehicles in which every truck is switched over, making training and repairs for mechanics easier. The routes are the same and predictable as the beer drinking habits of the American public. This is sustainable.

The fact they have no rushed plans to automate trucks with an unproven risky technology is added proof that their management group is run by wise adults.

Another idea I'd heard for stranded wind energy, which, as you point out is usually in rural areas, if the Haber process - you can create fertilizer overnight and electricity during the day.

"The zero-emission trucks - " really!!!!!

Hydrogen (H) doesn't grow on trees or just come out of the ground, it has to be manufactured which takes energy, typically electricity, which comes from, well it doesn't grow on trees either,,. . Somewhere in this production something is going to get polluted and something is going produce some emissions. ...

Top gun. You are rIght. No process is 100% efficient. I've read something many years ago that salts are part of the emissions.
Also, if hydrogen cells were so damn economic then why aren't refineries using them?
Don't forget that hydrogen is a volitle gas, much more than gasoline... Lastly, and h2 embrittlement will be a big issue...
Much problems abound with this tecnology.

Let's see...hydrogen is not freely available in nature unless one spends energy separating it from other compounds. According to the US Federal Government, 95% of today’s hydrogen in the US is supplied from steam-methane reforming that uses heat + natural gas + water to produce hydrogen + carbon monoxide. Also, hydrogen is not very portable and fuel cells are very expensive. The end result of using hydrogen for electric transportation fuel is a higher cost and more pollution (but the pollution isn’t located at the tailpipe of the truck). The concept was a loser when President George W. Bush threw $1.2 billion at it in 2003 and it is still a loser today. If we really wanted to transport hydrogen conveniently we would figure out how to bond it to something stable like carbon so we could carry it around as an energy dense liquid. We might call it a “hydrocarbon.” Depending on the length of the hydrocarbon chain, we could name it "gasoline" or "diesel."

Refineries moving to H2, deals being done. Piping is a dense plastic in places. If stranded wind used efficiency less of a problem. Systems already running, have seen them.

It can be generated locally and using renewables. Nuclear base supply used too overnight. Shell have stations opening in London, CA has a number already, network of filling stations in process in UK. No need to transport H2 unlike diesel/petrol.

Compressed Natural Gas vehicles have been around for about a century; even Liquified Natural Gas busses have been marketed. But refueling is a problem, as is storing large quantities of high pressure gas on a vehicle. Hydrogen is a much trickier gas to handle than methane -- hydrogen embrittlement, etc. So how will H2 vehicles succeed where CNG vehicles have languished? Nikola's website does not provide much of a clue. Is this another subsidy- or regulation-driven technology?

caradoc-again said: “It can be generated locally and using renewables. Nuclear base supply used too overnight. Shell have stations opening in London, CA has a number already, network of filling stations in process in UK. No need to transport H2 unlike diesel/petrol.”

It is all idiocy. Whatever precursors are used to “generate” the hydrogen must be transported. Nothing about liberating hydrogen “locally” addresses portability. To be used a transportation fuel, the fuel must be easily and safely carried onboard a vehicle. Using “renewables” to liberate hydrogen only makes it that much more uneconomic. If one is going to use nuclear energy to liberate hydrogen, then one must also consider what higher and better uses might there be for that nuclear energy. Governments throwing money at this technology does not change the bad economics and bad environmental consequences of it. Such programs are merely proof of how ignorant and wasteful government spending is.

huge p.r. benefits here. corporate america is going clean energy despite best efforts by trump and the epa.

The positive comments supporting this tech despite its obvious impracticality are stunning. I suppose we have officially arrived at “Idiocracy.” (content at the link below might be offensive to some)

That's a nice hydrogen truck with humongous 350KWhr battery.

Anyone else notice the irony of naming direct current technology after the pioneer of alternating current?

While battery (and hydrogen cells) output DC, the motors of most EV models are actually still consuming sine wave AC.

There reason behind that is that AC motors are cheaper and last almost forever compared to DC brushed motors.

And induction motor was invented by Nikola Tesla -

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The Hazer Process is on track to deliver H2 75% cheaper than Steam Methane Reforming, with 70% less CO2. (Also, Hazer Group, the nano-cap Australian company with the patents, might be a red-hot speculation imo...)

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They're just as "zero emission" as electric trucks/cars are, since electricity comes mainly from fossil fuels. Even "renewable" energy infrastructure produces huge amounts of emissions over its manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance and decommission. Incidentally - hydrogen comes from natural gas, not from electricity.

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