Elon Musk may have won his bid to take over Twitter, but Nikola and Volvo appear to be winning the race for electric truck market share.
Nikola, a Tesla rival, began production of its heavy-duty commercial battery electric vehicles (BEV) at its Coolidge, Arizona, plant in late April in a bid to secure an industry presence and contracts. The 250,000-square-foot plant is turning out one truck per day. A 160,000-square-foot expansion is expected to raise seemingly low production levels to five Class 8 trucks per day.
“We have been a pre-revenue startup for years, where everything we spent, we had to raise from investors,” Nikola CEO Mark Russell reportedly said. “Today marks the day when we transition to customer deliveries. We have trucks that we can deliver to customers and get paid for. We’re now going to be a revenue-producing company and will be forever.”
California approved the Nikola Tre Bev series for tax incentives tallying $120,000. With Golden State companies able to purchase Tre series trucks at a premium, the company leverages the zero-emissions vouchers to secure 134 orders through April. And Nikola also appears to be winning in practical applications. The Tre BEV Class 8 tractors possess a range of 350 miles, reportedly the longest in the industry to date.
Like the delays that plagued passenger vehicles, Musk repeatedly pushed the Tesla Semi launch back after debuting the rig in November 2017. The electric-car maker went on the record stating the Semi would come to market in 2019, and customers are still waiting. Recent reports indicate the heavy-duty truck might see asphalt in 2023, but that is not a certainty.
Industry insiders indicate the delays have been strategic. A renewed focus on profit-driving Model 3 and Y vehicles and focus on a new 4680 battery cell reportedly prompted the Tesla Semi production hold. The iconic carmaker and CEO are reportedly trying to deliver an electric semi with a 500-mile range. Outpacing others in its class in terms of distance would be something of a game-changer.
And while Musk basks in his Twitter win and electric passenger vehicle dominance in the U.S., other manufacturers are inserting themselves into the market as well. Volvo started taking orders for three heavy-duty electric trucks — Volvo FH, Volvo FM, and Volvo FMX.
“This is a milestone for Volvo Trucks. There is a lot of interest from customers to place orders for these fantastic trucks,” Roger Alm, president of Volvo Trucks, reportedly said. “Until now, we have mainly offered customers and partners to sign letters of intent to buy, but now we start to sign firm orders, which is a major step forward for electrification.”
Production is ramping up at Volvo’s CO2 neutral plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, and trucks are expected to come off the assembly line in the fall. All told, Volvo is expected to bring six heavy-duty electric trucks to market by the end of 2022.