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

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 Michelin VISION tire is the tire of the future for the company

Photo courtesy of Michelin

Sustainability is in focus for most of the world's automakers. Making cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that pollute the Earth less than their predecessors is their focus alongside emerging safety and driver assistance technology. Others in the auto industry supply chain are also looking to become more sustainable, including Michelin.

The tire company has announced that by 2050, Michelin tires will be made entirely from renewable, recycled, bio sourced, and otherwise sustainable materials. Today, nearly 30 percent of the materials used in manufacturing Michelin Group tires is are sustainable.

A study released last year, Emissions Analytics, an independent global testing and data company that studies real-world emissions and fuel efficiency for passenger and commercial vehicles, found that pollution from tire wear can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a vehicle's exhaust pipe. Unlike exhaust pollution, tire and brake pollution is mostly unregulated.

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In 2017, Michelin introduced the VISION tire, a concept that is airless, connected, rechargeable, and entirely sustainable. Since then, the company has invested in recycling efforts, buying up rubber pellet recyclers in the State of Georgia and in Spain.

The current lineup of Michelin tires consists of products that contain more than 200 ingredients each. The main part of the equation is natural rubber, which is harvested from rubber trees via a process that requires tapping a tree much in the same way that maple syrup comes from maple trees. Rubber trees traditionally need to be at least six years old before they are harvested.

Other materials in Michelin tires include synthetic rubber, metal, fibers, and components that are designed to strengthen the tire's structure like carbon black, silica, and plasticizers.

In a statement, a spokesperson fro Michelin said, "Michelin's maturity in materials technology stems from the strength of its R&D capabilities, which are supported by 6,000 people working in seven research and development centers around the world and mastering 350 areas of expertise. The commitment of these engineers, researchers, chemists and developers has led to the filing of 10,000 patents covering tyre design and manufacturing. They work hard every day to find the recipes that will improve tyre safety, durability, ride and other performance features, while helping to make them 100-percent sustainable by 2050."

Michelin has partnered with a number of companies to create materials of the future. Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles, the two companies that are spearheading the BioButterfly project, have been working with Michelin since 2019 on producing bio-sourced butadiene to replace petroleum-based butadiene. Using the biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalk, and other plant waste, 4.2 million tons of wood chips could be incorporated into Michelin tires every year with the materials replacement.

A partnership between Michelin and Pyroware can produce recycled styrene from plastics found in packaging. Styrene is used to produce synthetic rubber. Eventually, tens of thousands of tonnes of polystyrene waste could be recycled back into its original products as well as into Michelin tires every year.

Additionally, Michelin will launch the construction of its first tire recycling plant in the world with Encivo, a Swedish company that has developed a patented technology to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other new, high-quality reusable materials from end-of-life tires.

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The Nissan Ariya has wind glide over it in the testing tunnel.

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

Nissan is targeting a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.297 for the Ariya all-electric crossover. If it can make that number, it will be the company's most aerodynamic crossover to date. What does that mean? Let's take a closer look.

What is drag?

Simply put, drag is an aerodynamic force. It's mechanical in nature, so it is the result of the interaction of a solid body and a liquid. In the case of a car, this liquid is air. (Yes, air is a liquid.) It only occurs when one part of the equation (the solid body or the liquid) is in motion. If there is no motion, there is no drag.

Drag only occurs in the opposite direction of the object's movement. Think of a car cutting through the air as it drives down a north-south road. As the car heads north, the air it passes through is pushed south. The car is in motion; there is drag.

2022 Nissan Ariya

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

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What is coefficient of drag?

The coefficient of drag, also called a drag coefficient, is a number that aerodynamics professions (aerodynamicists) use to determine the shape, inclination, and flow conditions on a vehicle's drag. The shape of an object (bullet vs. square vs prism, etc.) has a large impact on the amount of drag created by airflow surrounding a vehicle. Objects with narrower front ends tend to have a lower coefficient.

Scientists and vehicle designers want to keep air moving around the car for maximum efficiency. The inclination of the airflow to either move in a smooth, connected pattern, or to be broken up with air sitting, stalling in one particular part of the vehicle, lessening airflow and making the vehicle less aerodynamic.

A vehicle's Cd is determined by plugging various measurements into an equation. Cd is equal to drag (D) divided by the quantity of density (r) multiplied by half the velocity (V) squared multiple by the reference area (A). As an equation, it looks like this: Cd = D / (A * .5 * r * V^2).

The smaller the Cd, the more aerodynamic a vehicle is.

2022 Nissan Ariya

The Nissan Ariya employs aerodynamic wheel design, made to help it cut though the air with greater ease.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

What is the coefficient of drag of the Nissan Ariya?

"With the growing shift towards electric mobility, aerodynamic testing is becoming increasingly important. The aerodynamics of electric vehicles are directly linked to how efficiently the vehicle moves – less drag and better stability allows the customer to drive longer distances before having to recharge," said Sarwar Ahmed, Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics Engineer at Nissan Technical Centre Europe.

Nissan is targeting a 0.297 coefficient of drag for the Ariya. How will it achieve that number? By utilizing precisely shaped body lines and strategically placed air ducts, among other components. There's a bonus to better aerodynamics when it comes to EVs.

"Following official homologation of the Nissan Ariya later this year, we anticipate the range to improve compared to the 310 mile figure shared in 2020 during the World Premiere. This will give drivers more efficiency and confidence to go even further on a single charge," said Marco Fioravanti, VP Product Planning, Nissan Europe.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to other Nissans?

The newest Nissans, the Kicks, Pathfinder, and Frontier, don't have their Cd publicly available yet, but other models have their results. The targeted 0.297 Cd in the Ariya is less than that in the 2021 Armada, Murano, and Rogue. But, it's higher than the Nissan Leaf.

The fact that it's higher than the Leaf is not surprising. Shorter cars tend to be more aerodynamic because they sit lower to the ground and have a smaller profile. That also explains why Nissan's largest and boxiest SUV, the Armada, has the highest number on the list.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to numbers from other EVs?

The Nissan Ariya's coefficient of drag is higher than that of most other electric cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold in the U.S. Here's where the others measure up:

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