Nikola Motors steals Tesla's first name, wants to build clean semis

An all-electric UTC called the Nikola Zero is also in the works.

Nikola Zero Electric UTV
  • Nikola Zero Electric UTV
  • Image Credit: Nikola Motor Company
  • Nikola Zero Electric UTV
  • Nikola Zero Electric UTV
  • Nikola Zero Electric UTV
  • Nikola Zero Electric UTV
With Tesla Motors pretty much cornering the market on public perception of what an electric car should be, a new EV company with a conveniently connected name is ready to stake its claim in two other vehicle types. Nikola Motor Company came out of stealth mode today with a fresh website that talks about two plug-in vehicle projects: a natural gas-electric hybrid semi truck called the Nikola One and an all-electric 4x4 UTV called the Nikola Zero. We can't wait for the next offering, the Nikola Model 3.

As I suspect most readers will know, the name Nikola comes from inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), who is also posthumously lending his name to that one company Elon Musk is running. While the names are an obvious connecting thread, the Nikola Motor Company will not be competing with Tesla Motors, unless Tesla decides to get into the $375,000 electric semi game. Oh, right, the Nikola One is a $375,000 electric semi.

On top of a 320-kWh battery pack, the 2,000-horsepower Nikola One will have a fuel-agnostic turbine.

But it's not all-electric. On top of a 320-kWh battery pack, the 2,000-horsepower Nikola One will have a fuel-agnostic turbine (the standard model will have a natural gas tank) that sends power to the battery. Nikola says that its truck will be able to operate at half the cost per mile of today's diesel trucks. With a full tank of 150 gallons of natural gas, the Nikola One will supposedly be able to go 1,200 miles before fill-ups. And, for the first 5,000 reservations (yeah, Nikola Motors is accepting refundable reservations as of today – $1,500 for the truck and $750 for the UTV), the company will throw in 100,000 gallons of free natural gas at its planned network of CNG stations and company-owned natural gas wells. The 100,000 gallons are enough, Nikola says, for a million work miles.

The Nikola Zero, on the other hand, is all about the fun. A lightweight frame and a 50-kWh battery combine to give this off-roader between 100 and 150 miles of range and 520 hp. With a 14.5-inch ground clearance and 0-60 in under three seconds, the Zero could be a lot of fun one day. Of course, for today these two projects are nothing more than renderings. The company is promising to show off the "first working prototypes" later this year, though. CEO Trevor Milton said in a statement that, "This is just the beginning of what's ahead for America, our company and the electric vehicle market." We shall see.
Show full PR text
Nikola Motor Company Formed to Transform U.S. Transportation Industry
First products announced: Nikola One class 8 electric semi-truck and Nikola Zero 4x4 electric UTV

SALT LAKE CITY. May 10, 2016-- Nikola (pronounced Neek-oh-la) Motor Company (NMC), named after the famous electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, was quietly formed by Founder and CEO Trevor Milton years ago to design and manufacture electric vehicles, energy storage systems and electric vehicle drivetrain components.

With the first working prototypes displayed to the public later this year, the company will launch a 2,000 horsepower, electric semi-truck, dubbed "Nikola One", and a 520 hp, 4x4 electric UTV with a code name of "Nikola Zero."

For complete product details on the Nikola Zero and One, visit Reservations have just begun for both the Nikola Zero UTV and the Nikola One electric semi-truck.

While the majority of the semi-trucks components are being developed by Nikola, the company also co-designed the industry's first ever independent suspension with Meritor (NYSE: MTOR).

"By working together with some of the top engineering firms in America, we were able to design vehicles that have previously been thought impossible to design," said Milton.

"We want to even the playing field and income inequalities seen between owner operators and fleets for the first time in recent trucking history. This is just the beginning of what's ahead for America, our company and the electric vehicle market," added Milton.

Prior to establishing Nikola, Milton was CEO of dHybrid Systems, a natural gas storage technology company that was acquired in October 2014 by one of America's largest steel providers, Worthington Industries. (NYSE: WOR)

About Nikola Motor Company:

Nikola Motor Company designs and manufactures electric vehicles, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and electric vehicle drivetrains. NMC is led by its visionary CEO Trevor Milton (twitter: @nikolatrevor), who has assembled one of the most talented teams in the country to bring the Nikola products to market. For more information, visit or Twitter: @nikolamotor.

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