The currently-all-but-nonexistent electric pickup truck market is about to become incredibly competitive. In the next couple years, EV-specific manufacturers will serve up offerings such as the Tesla Cybertruck, the Rivian R1T, and the Bollinger B2; mainstream carmakers will be there too, with GM’s electric Hummer and Ford’s upcoming electric F-150 fighting for attention and sales.
One upstart company looking to equal them on capability (and best them all on range) is Nikola. (Yes, it’s named after the same guy as Tesla.) Its Badger pickup truck, which will formally debut at some sort of mysterious event called “Nikola World 2020” in December, will be available with up to 906 horsepower and 980 lb-ft of torque; it’ll also offer up to 600 miles of range. Investors were so excited that the company launched with a $34 billion market cap (Ford is currently $23.4 billion) before earning revenue.
Nikola will sell two Badger versions. The first will be a 300-mile range battery-electric vehicle starting at $60,000 after incentives. The second 600-mile range version will use a strange hybrid setup: a combination of a 160-kWh electric battery and a 120-kW hydrogen fuel cell, each contributing about 300 miles of range and sending power through the electric motors.
Nikola claims the fuel cell Badger will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds and tow up to 8,000 pounds, on par with its pure electric competitors. It will start at $80,000 after incentives.
(On a side note: reality TV “star” Heavy D from the Diesel Brothers collaborated with Nikola on the design, building and testing of the Badger, if that adds to the appeal for you.)
In theory, using hydrogen fuel cells to add range to an EV makes sense. Hydrogen can be quickly pumped into a vehicle, much like gasoline; in theory, this method could eliminate range anxiety without loading the vehicle with a ton of extra weight in the form of more battery packs, but without adding polluting internal-combustion power.
But there’s one not-so-small issue with hydrogen: infrastructure. Hydrogen filling stations are currently only readily available in California, and even there, they’re nowhere as common as gas stations. (Nikola has plans to build 700 new hydrogen filling stations, for what it’s worth.)
Nikola is currently taking pre-orders for the Badger on its website. You can put a $250 deposit for the Instinct Package, which includes one ticket to Nikola World and one entry for the Badger giveaway. Or, you can opt for the Predator Package for $1,000 which includes five tickets and five entries. Both are fully refundable, if the Nikola World ticket is not used. Nikola says Badger production will begin in 2022 or earlier.