Electrification of powertrains is becoming bigger than you imagined. Most people may think that this trend only involves passenger cars and motorcycles but there are companies which are already developing electric powertrains for huge trucks that can haul cargo across continents.
By 2021, Nikola Motor Company will bring to market the Nikola One and Two, a Class 8 electric truck line-up that will deliver more than 1,000 bhp and 2,712 Nm of torque – nearly double the horsepower of any semi-truck on the road – all with zero local emissions.
At the heart of the Nikola future truck line-up is a new commercial vehicle powertrain achieved thanks to a development partnership between Nikola and Bosch. The organizations re-imagined the powertrain from the ground up, with Bosch’s eAxle expertise enabling Nikola to move quickly on an aggressive path to bring its electric truck to market.
The eAxle is a scalable, modular platform with the motor, power electronics and transmission in one compact unit. This makes it suitable for vehicles of all kinds, from small passenger cars to light trucks. Nikola and Bosch will use this know-how to commercialize the world’s first true dual-motor commercial-vehicle eAxle for a long-haul truck.
The eAxle will use proven commercial vehicle electric machine technology and SMG (separate motor generator) motors from Bosch. The technology vision of Nikola and integration expertise from Bosch will enable the Nikola trucks to realize unprecedented targets for e-machine efficiency.
The eAxles will be paired with a custom-designed hydrogen fuel cell system (also being developed jointly by both companies) designed to deliver benchmark vehicle range. The overall vehicle controls will also be jointly developed based upon Bosch’s vehicle control software and hardware. The Nikola Bosch zero local emission powertrain is designed to achieve segment-leading performance at a competitive total cost of ownership to traditional powertrains.
“We have been aggressively pursuing our goal of bringing the most advanced semi-truck ever built to market,” explained Nikola’s Founder and CEO, Trevor Milton. “The powertrain requires an innovative and flexible partner able to adapt quickly to the speed of our team. Bosch has empowered us to come to market quickly with automotive-grade hardware and software so our vision can become a reality.”
Bosch and Nikola will also jointly develop the overall powertrain system for the Nikola line-up, which will include the safety concept and vehicle electrical architecture. By utilizing advanced simulation technologies throughout the whole development process, from system layout to testing and validation, the Nikola One and Two will launch with one of the most optimized and state-of-the-art system designs and vehicle controls in the mobility sector.
The company claims that the Nikola Two will have a range of 1,300 kms to almost 2,000 kms range on full electric drive and operating costs will be half that of a similar-sized truck using a diesel engine. Refilling of hydrogen is expected to be 15 minutes.
“Bosch is an incubator of electromobility solutions. No matter whether at established vehicle manufacturers or start-ups, Bosch is accelerating development and helps achieve fast breakthroughs on the market,” said Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Bosch board of management responsible for the Commercial Vehicle Organization. “Together with Nikola, we are pushing ourselves to realize new levels of technological achievement and market penetration.”