New Model News

Nikola Badger set to take on Tesla with new EV, hydrogen fuel cell truck

Nikola has been developing hydrogen powertrains for tractor trailers. Now the company is turning its attention to a full-size truck.

Photo courtesy of Nikola Corporation

Nikola Corporation has announced its intention to build a new electric pickup truck, the Nikola Badger. Should it make it to market, the Badger would be competitive with the Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV, and Tesla Cybertruck.

The company has designed the Nikola Badger to run on electricity and hydrogen. Power comes from a 160 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 120 kW fuel cell.

Nikola Badger

Nikola Badger

Photo courtesy of Nikola Corporation


It is promised to deliver 980 pound-feet of torque, 906 peak horsepower, and 455 continuous horsepower. It is slated to have an estimated 600 miles of range, 300 on batteries alone.

The five-seater Badger is slated to be outfitted with a 15-kilowatt power outlet for tools, lights and compressors, which the company says is enough power to assist a construction site for approximately 12 hours without a generator. It is designed to handle getting from zero to 100 mph with minimal performance loss and operate on grades up to 40 percent.

Nikola says, "With a fully loaded trailer and combined vehicle weight of 18,000 lbs., the Badger will be able to launch from a standstill on a 30% grade without motor stall." It has a towing capacity of 8,000 pounds.

"Nikola has billions worth of technology in our semi-truck program, so why not build it into a pickup truck?" said Trevor Milton, CEO, Nikola Corporation. "I have been working on this pickup program for years and believe the market is now ready for something that can handle a full day's worth of work without running out of energy. This electric truck can be used for work, weekend getaways, towing, off-roading or to hit the ski slopes without performance loss. No other electric pickup can operate in these temperatures and conditions."

The Badger will be built in conjunction with another OEM utilizing their certified parts and manufacturing facilities. It is a full-size pickup truck, about the same size as the Ford F-150. Ford is slated to show off an electric version of the F-150 in the coming months.

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The truck's biggest obstacle aside from manufacturing, distribution, and a repair network, is its reliance on hydrogen. The hydrogen distribution network, hindered by local and state laws and regulations, is not built out nationwide to support a large number of hydrogen vehicles in the marketplace. Currently, nearly all new hydrogen-powered vehicle sales are in California, which has a budding hydrogen refueling system.

Nikola has partnered with Heavy D from "Diesel Brothers" to design, build, and test the Badger. The partnership will follow the Badger build from concept through production.

"My audience, hard-core truck enthusiasts, has expected me to push the limits of truck power and capabilities since my beginnings," said Heavy D, AKA Dave Sparks. "Being able to pull back the curtain of a production truck build is a rare opportunity where we can include the everyday truck owner to participate in the final outcome of design, exterior choices and performance specs. I wanted to be part of that story and now I have the opportunity with Nikola."

"The Nikola Badger is a game changer. The program will help drive down the cost of the fuel-cell components on our semi-truck while accelerating the hydrogen station rollout. Giving customers the option to order a fuel-cell or battery electric version will ensure we drive the cost down for everyone across our lineup," said Mark Russell, president of Nikola Corporation.

The Nikola Badger will make its first appearance at Nikola World 2020 in Phoenix. Prototypes will be available for select customers and media to ride in at Nikola World.

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The Sakura is Nissan's newest EV.

Nissan

It's no secret that the Japanese get all manner of quirky, cool cars that we don't see here in the States. Sure, there's the Nissan Skyline and Mitsubishi Delica van, but tiny vehicles like kei cars and "minivehicles" are popular imports for Americans looking to diversify their drives. Pint-sized kei cars are ripe for electrification, and Nissan did just that with its new Sakura EV, which comes almost a year after the automaker announced it was working with Mitsubishi to develop tiny electric models. It's one of dozens of new EVs slated to come from the Mitsubishi-Nissan-Renaul Alliance this decade.

Though tiny, the Sakura offers a decent top speed of 80 mph, and its range of around 112 miles could make it an ideal urban runabout for many. That said, there's little chance the car will come to the United States. Japan's minivehicles and kei cars are far smaller than anything currently on sale here. For example, the Sakura's 133.6-inch length makes it almost 18 inches shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, a car that Americans would consider minuscule.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura borrows features from the Nissan Leaf, including its battery.Nissan

Nissan borrowed the Sakura's 20-kWh battery from the Leaf and says it can be used to provide power for external devices or even power a home for up to a day. The car comes with three driving modes to change the behavior of things like regenerative braking and throttle response, and Nissan says it took further guidance from the Leaf to give the Sakura the quietest cabin in its class.

The Sakura's upright shape likely helps with headroom, but it certainly doesn't increase cargo space, as Nissan claims just 107 liters (4 cubic feet) of room. That said, the car features small-item storage spaces for gear like a smartphone or wallet. Buyers can opt for black, beige, or blue-grey interior colors, and an upgrade package is available that brings a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There are a surprising number of features packed into the minute Nissan's cabin. A 7-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard, and a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Nissan says the car's displays are oriented to reduce distraction and keep the driver's eyes on the road, and ProPilot safety systems are standard, including a new parking assist feature. ProPilot is a stepping stone toward Nissan's goal of debuting autonomous driving tech by 2030.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura isn't destined for the U.S. - yet, anyway. Nissan

The Sakura goes on sale in Japan this summer. It's priced at 1.78 million yen, or around $14,000. The car will be available for purchase online, and Nissan says it will offer video chats and other resources to help buyers with the process. Buyers will be able to opt for a full in-person buying experience, a completely virtual experience, or anything in between.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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