Nikola sets Arizona plant groundbreaking for July 23

Nikola Tre

Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) will break ground on a plant in Coolidge, Arizona, on July 23 that initially will employ 2,000 workers building battery-electric Class 8 trucks.

Nikola Executive Chairman Trevor Milton tweeted the date on Friday. The plant, which is expected to take 12-18 months to construct, eventually will build 35,000 battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks annually, a Nikola spokeswoman said.

The startup, which became a publicly traded company via a reverse merger on June 4, is competing with traditional heavy-duty manufacturers Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) and Volvo Trucks, which plan regular production of electric models in 2021. Both operate electric truck test fleets in California.

Nikola expects to begin producing its battery-powered Tre model in a joint venture with the IVECO unit of CNHI N.V. (NYSE: CNHI) at a plant in Ulm, Germany, in 2021.

South of Phoenix

The new plant 50 miles south of Phoenix will produce fuel cell trucks in 2023. Nikola has 14,600 orders for the fuel cell trucks, including a firm commitment from Anheuser-Busch to buy up to 800 trucks.

Nikola also is developing hydrogen fueling stations that will be constructed strategically along routes its customers travel. Getting the hydrogen stations built for Anheuser-Busch is the second priority after successfully launching European production next year, Milton told FreightWaves in a May 28 interview.

Nikola plans a mobility-as-a-service approach to its fuel cells, offering a seven-year lease that includes hydrogen fuel for up to 1 million miles of driving, plus maintenance.

More details on the new plant are expected June 29 when Nikola will begin taking orders for the battery-electric Badger full-size pickup truck. The Badger, expected to begin production around 2022 with an as-yet-unnamed manufacturing partner, will have an optional fuel cell that could extend the driving range from 300 to 600 miles.

The Badger will be unveiled at NikolaWorld in Phoenix Dec. 3-4.

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