The founder of Nikola Motors, Trevor Milton has announced today that reservations for their truck, known as the Badger, will open on June 29th.
The truck (or Ute in Aussie language), features a more conventional design than Tesla’s Cybertruck, while also being modern in appearance.
The Badger’s headline range is listed at 600 miles of range (that’s a massive 965km, but dive a little deeper and you’ll see the powertrain is actually constructed of a battery, good for 300 miles and a hydrogen fuel-cell which makes up for the other 300 miles. It also seems Nikola will offer a pure EV option, but that would halve the range.
To put that range into perspective, the Tri Motor AWD Cybertruck offers 500+ miles (804km) and the Rivian R1T offers 400+ miles (643km).
Those massive range figures for the Badger need to be contrasted by the lack of hydrogen infrastructure. Nikola as a company is placing bets on both EV and Hyrdrogen and say the two can work in harmony, rather than be competing technologies.
Given the billions of dollars that would need to be spend to build out a hydrogen refuelling stations across the country and the world, we can assume it’ll be many years before the 600 mile range is actually achievable.
The claimed performance figures of the Badger are impressive with the 0-60MPH time set at just 2.9 seconds which is sure to turn some heads. The towing capacity is likely to be more important to truck/ute owners and Nikola expects the Badget to be good for towing 8,000 pounds (3.628kg).
By way of comparison, the Rivian R1T is good for 11,000 pounds (around 5,000 kg) while Tesla’s top-end Cybertruck is projected to tow 14,000 pounds (6,350kg).
The company’s founder has been in the media a lot over the past couple of weeks as the company just went public and now has a market cap of around US$12.9 Billion at the time of writing.
What’s very different about Nikola’s approach is that they are trying to assemble vehicles by bringing together company’s with different expertise, rather than vertically integrate and build everything themselves. It’ll be very interesting to see if this business model is successful.
What we know from Tesla’s experience in ramping up production of the Model 3 and Model Y is that showing off the design of an EV is the easy part, manufacturing them at volume, at a decent price, is really difficult.
Nikola reservations are done with $0 deposit, which really jeopardizes the validity of any reservation numbers. By requiring reservation holders to put at least some money down, it indicates a higher level of seriousness in the reservation and are much more likely to proceed with the purchase.
In November last year, Milton tweeted that Nikola World 2020 would offer attendees an opportunity to drive in a pre-production Nikola Two, Tre, NZT and WAV Watercraft. That was obviously pre-covid, so we’re not sure how much of that will still be true. The date of the Nikola World event is also to be announced on June 29th.
In terms of when the first Badger will roll off the production line, Milton gave us the best indication of a timeline on the JMAC Investing podcast, saying it’ll be 12-18 months after the unveil date. This means we’re unlikely to see the Badger on the road before 2022.