This week, a startup car maker revealed its design for an electric semi truck, known as the Nikola One, with an on-board turbine range-extender.
- shares

Beneath its aerodynamic body, the Nikola One has an extended range electric or series hybrid drivetrain.

At each of its six wheels there's a 250kW electric motor and a dual gear reduction system. Working in concert, they give the Nikola One a total of 1500kW of power and over 5000Nm of torque.

Powering the electric motors is a liquid cooled 320kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which in turn is connected to a 400kW turbine that acts as a range extender. The turbine is said to be fuel agnostic, and can work with compressed natural gas, petrol or diesel.

Autodesk VRED Design 2016

Nikola says that the One can haul a total gross weight of 36.3 tonnes, and go for between 1290 and 1930 kilometres between fuel stops. As far as performance goes, the company claims a fully loaded One can hit a top speed of 105km/h on a six percent grade.

Loaded up, the One has a claimed 0-60mph (0-97km/h) time of around 30 seconds, around half that of a regular diesel powered semi. Its estimated fuel economy is between 15.7 and 23.5L/100km, whereas a diesel semi usually has a rating of around 43L/100km.

Thanks to its focus on aerodynamics, Nikola Motor says that the One has five percent less drag and an interior with 30 percent more space than regular semis.


Sliding doors provide entry to the cabin, which features a full-size fridge and freezer, microwave, climate control, panoramic windscreen, sunroof, two full size beds, 4G LTE internet connectivity, and a 42-inch television.

According to Nikola Motor, all of the cabin's gear can be run on a fully charged battery for a week without once requiring a top up from the turbine.

The company has opened up the order books for the Nikola One, with reservations priced at US$1500 ($2040) per truck, and the truck estimated to cost between US$350,000 and US$450,000 ($475,000 and $610,000), depending on options.

If Nikola Motor's plans work out, it's also promising those who reserve the first 5000 One trucks free compressed natural gas, from the company's own wells, for the first one million miles (1.6 million kilometres).


The startup also unveiled a utility terrain vehicle (UTV). Dubbed the Nikola Zero, the electric UTV has a 115kW electric motor at each wheel.

Capable of racing from 0-60mph in under three seconds, the Zero is powered by a 50kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides a driving range of between 160 and 240 kilometres.

The UTV also features a bank of solar panels on the roof, which help to keep the car's 12 volt electrical system topped up.