Trans-Atlantic JV Details Battery-Electric and Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Truck Plans

veco Trucks and its sister firm, FPT Industrial, along with Nikola Corp. discussed the scope of the joint venture and collaboration agreement under which they plan develop hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric trucks for the European market at a Dec. 3 press conference in Turin, Italy.

The jv agreement, inked in Septmber, is technically between Phoenix-based Nikola Motor Co. and CNH Industrial N.V. CNHI, based in the Netherlands, is the parent of Italy-based truck maker Iveco S.p.A. and powertrain supplier FPT Industrial. The deal includes a $250 million investment in Nikola by CNH.

In a Sept. 3 news release, the two partners stated that Nikola’s zero-emission heavy-duty trucks, powered by proprietary hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology, will be the first such vehicles to go into production. Further, they contended that Nikola’s “disruptive business model foresees an industry-first ‘all-in’ lease rate, which includes vehicle, service, maintenance and fuel costs, providing long-term total cost of ownership certainty at or below diesel costs.”

Under the agreement, Iveco and FPT Industrial will provide engineering and manufacturing expertise to help put into production Nikola’s fuel-cell and battery electric trucks: The Nikola One, a North American Class 8 sleeper truck; the Nikola Two, a North American Class 8 daycab; and the Nikola Tre, a European cabover heavy-duty truck.

At the Dec. 3 presser, the partners showed off a model of the battery electric Nikola Tre, which is based on the Iveco S-Way platform and integrates Nikola’s truck technology, controls, and infotainment system.

Testing of the Tre is expected to begin in mid-2020, the companies said, with a European public launch planned for the IAA 2020 commercial vehicle show in Hanover, Germany. Sales and aftersales support of the truck will be provided by Iveco’s European dealer network.

The Tre is “the first step on the path towards the Nikola fuel cell electric model (FCEV), which will be available to customers by 2023,” the partners also stated.

“This joint-venture with Nikola is testament to both partners technical expertise, which will result in tangible environmental benefits for Europe’s long-distance haulers,” CNH Industrial CEO Hubertus Mühlhauser said at the Turin event.

“This partnership is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Trevor Milton, Nikola Motors CEO.  “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.