Nikola begins Badger electric pickup marketing push

Nikola Badger electric pickup

Let the marketing begin.

Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) likely won’t have its Badger battery-electric pickup with a fuel cell range extender for sale until 2022. But it began taking orders Monday, offering to match $5,000 deposits and guaranteeing an invitation to a reveal party in December.

With a truck giveaway, Nikola is sweetening the pitch used by and rival Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The industry-leading electric car maker took deposits on hundreds of thousands of its Model 3 sedans during the previous decade. Badger deposits are refundable. They will be held but not used for development, Executive Chairman Trevor Milton wrote on Twitter.

Badger pricing is expected to be $60,000 to $90,000 depending on configuration, Milton said.

Nikola expects to name a Badger manufacturing partner before the reveal at the second annual Nikola World in Phoenix, which will be held December 3-5. 

The announced field of electric-powered pickups is crowded. Established automakers Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Tesla plan models. So do startups Lordstown Motors Corp., Rivian and Nikola. The U.S. market for pickups is about 2.8 million annually. All of those are currently built to run on gasoline or diesel.

Electric vehicles stand to gain from the California Air Resources Board passage of an Advanced Clean Trucks Regulation that phases in zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024. It mandates 75% of Class 8 trucks be powered by electricity by 2035.

Badger details

The battery-electric (BEV) Badger is expected to offer 300 miles of range, while the hydrogen-power fuel cell (FCEV) extender adds 300 miles for a total of approximately 600 miles.

With single-gear straight-line acceleration, the BEV reaches 60 mph from zero in approximately 2.9 seconds. It is anticipated to generate more than 906 horsepower and 980-foot pounds of torque with 15-kilowatt-hour power export for tools and other needs.

Features include tie-down tracks inside for cargo, a hidden refrigerator and waterproof displays, over-the-air updates, keyless entry, and independent torque control of every wheel.

“You couldn’t dream of building a better pickup than the Badger,” Milton said. 

Bigger plans

Production of Nikola’s first heavy-duty electric truck, the battery-powered Tre, is expected to begin in mid-2021 in Ulm, Germany as part of a joint venture with IVECO, a subsidiary of CNH Industrial N.V., (NYSE: CNHI), which invested $100 million cash and $150 million in-kind in Nikola in September 2019.

Nikola will break ground July 23 on its own plant in Coolidge, Arizona, about 50 miles south of Phoenix. The plant initially will build Tre models for North America from imported kits before beginning production of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Two model in 2023.

Nikola, which began public trading under its own name June 4, has more than doubled in price since its reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company VectoIQ. Nikola shares came within cents of $100 on the third day of trading June 8. They have fallen since, closing on June 26 at $63.55. 

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