Fresh on our coverage of the news that Nikola Motor Company was suing Tesla for patent infringement with relation to its electric semi truck offering, it’s been announced that Anheuser-Busch will be purchasing “up to” 800 of Nikola Motor Company’s hydrogen-fuel-cell range-extended electric semi trucks. Sort of. Maybe.
The semi trucks in question will reportedly be able to cover 500-1,200 miles per full-tank, and be refueled in less than 20 minute, so the idea apparently is for the trucks to be used for long-haul operations.
If true, that would mean that the company is aiming to use Tesla’s Semi truck just for medium-range logistics, but “up to 800” is an ambiguous statement, and there’s a critical difference between the Tesla Semi reservations and the Nikola One ones. In the case of the Tesla Semi, you have to fork over a minimum of $20,000 for each reservation, whereas there’s no cost to make a reservation for a Nikola One.
As it stands, the first Nikola Motor Company semi trucks are planned to be integrated into the Anheuser-Busch fleet in 2020. Anheuser-Busch is reportedly seeking to convert its entire long-haul fleet to alternatively fueled trucks by 2025.
The CEO of Nikola Motor Company, Trevor Milton, commented on the news: “Hydrogen-electric technology is the future of logistics and we’re proud to be leading the way. 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.”
To go back to our earlier point in this article that this news follows closely on the announcement by Nikola Motor Company that it had filed a lawsuit against Tesla alleging patent infringement, we had speculated at the time that the company was filing the lawsuit because of dropping demand for its product following the reveal of the Tesla Semi.
While it may well be the case that some customers who had otherwise been interested have now shifted their potential orders towards the Tesla Semi, the new order (if we can call it that) by Anheuser-Busch presents the possibility that the situation may be somewhat more complicated than that. That said, it’s still not clearly yet whether the Nikola Motor Company will deliver on the specs presented. And it’s not clear what “up to 800” means in practice.