Nikola Corp.
230324 Nikola Tre Bev 1 6452a6e390372

Nikola Tre Class 8s sold, delivered to SoCal operators

May 3, 2023
Long Beach-based WattEV will buy 14 of the battery-electric trucks while Compton-based AJR Trucking, a major drayage operator running in and out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, announces an order for 50 hydrogen fuel-cell Tre models.

Nikola Corp. has sold of 64 of its Tre Class 8 tractors to two Southern California operators, split between the all-electric version of the truck that is currently on the market and the OEM's hydrogen fuel-cell electric model, which is slated to come out in the second quarter of this year.

WattEV, a Long Beach-based developer of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure and provider of trucks as a service (TaaS), announced the upcoming delivery of 14 Nikola Tre heavy battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). The sale is being financed with a long-term lease between Mitsubishi HC Capital America and WattEV, according to a May 3 joint release from WattEV and Nikola.

The day before, on May 2, Compton-based AJR Trucking, a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and a major drayage operator in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, announced the execution of a purchase order for 50 Nikola Tre hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) from Tom’s Truck Center, a member of Nikola's sales and service dealer network. Deliveries of these FCEVs are expected to take place between the fourth quarter of this year and Q1 2024, according to a release from AJR Trucking.

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“We are confident the future of trucking is zero-emissions, and based upon our operational needs, the Nikola Tre FCEVs were the only zero tailpipe-emission vehicles that could meet our range, performance, and cost targets,” AJR owner Jack Khudikyan said.

He added: “We are excited to be at the forefront of the deployment of this new technology and to be able to offer our customers zero-emission freight solutions. We look forward to working with Nikola and USPS to integrate the FCEVs into our mail-hauling operations starting in Southern California and envision expanding the use of these trucks throughout our operations nationwide.”

Nikola and Tom’s Truck Centers will help AJR Trucking secure its voucher application with the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). The companies expect to receive $270,000 per FCEV in point-of-sale incentives, according to the AJR Trucking release. They also expect an additional $40,000 in federal tax credits from the federal Inflation Reduction Act.

AJR and Nikola will explore the opportunities to deploy Nikola’s 10,000 psi (700 bar) mobile fueling solution at AJR Trucking properties in Compton and Santa Clarita, California, to fuel the new FCEVs, their release said. AJR Trucking expects to receive competitively priced hydrogen fuel delivered by Nikola to its terminals to support the FCEV deployment. Counting the various incentives, AJR said it anticipates rough cost parity with its existing fleet of diesel-burning tractors in its Postal Service and drayage operations.

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“We are excited about our partnership with AJR Trucking for the deployment of Nikola’s Tre FCEV trucks and hydrogen-fueling solutions,” said K.C. Heidler, president and CEO of Tom’s Truck Center. “We look forward to partnering with AJR Trucking as we support the expansion of their FCEV fleet and hydrogen fueling requirements throughout Calif. and into their operations for USPS nationwide.”

Nikola BEVs to join WattEV TaaS

With approval of CARB funding through HVIP, Nikola Tre BEV purchasers such as WattEV can qualify for an incentive valued at $120,000 per truck and up to $150,000 for drayage fleets, helping to reduce the total cost of ownership for any purchaser operating in California.

WattEV is building public charging depots to serve fleets of commercial BEVs. WattEV also provides electric trucks for TaaS to meet the needs of shippers and fleets. WattEV’s first of four charging depots in Southern California will open starting this month for service at the Port of Long Beach with access to Interstates 710 and 110. The Nikola trucks will use the WattEV depots for daily charging, according to the joint release from Nikola and WattEV.

See also: Kenworth unveils T680 hydrogen fuel-cell commercialization plans

“WattEV’s mission aligns with Nikola’s zero-emission vision to address the infrastructure pain point in support of the transition to zero-emissions by placing commercial truck charging solutions at all their depots,” said Nikola President and CEO Michael Lohscheller said. “We anticipate the availability of WattEV’s charging depots will play a significant role in industry adoption and provide customers with immediate zero-emission solutions.”

WattEV CEO Salim Youssefzadeh said his company aims to reduce charging times significantly.

“We have been running a pilot test with Nikola battery-electric trucks for the past six months and are quite satisfied with the energy efficiency of the trucks and the ongoing technical support,” Youssefzadeh said. “Nikola’s customer-centric approach to meet our requirement for transition from CCS to MCS charging will be a game-changer, which will allow us to rapidly expand our fleet size.”

The Combined Charging System (CCS) is the current charging standard for heavy-duty electric trucks, while faster charging systems are under development. The higher-power Megawatt Charging System (MCS) is expected to become the worldwide standard for fast-charging of medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, reducing typical charge sessions to less than 30 minutes.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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