Nel was mentioned in FreightWaves Article

Fueling Station

Fuel-celled electric vehicles trending ahead of battery

January 16, 2018 Chad Prevost, staff writer

Successful innovation always needs a technology mind-shift. Maybe that's the current problem for battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Research firm KPMG just released its annual automotive executive survey, and the survey reveals that “the tech-shift" hasn't met "the mind-shift" for BEVs, due to unsolved infrastructure issues.

The biggest hurdle to overcome is the long-distance infrastructure of superchargers. That is exactly what Tesla has been working on, literally breaking new ground for the industry. With all the negative press regarding Tesla’s production issues, it may be easy to overlook the fact that they have created nearly 400 supercharger stations across North America alone. If you factor in “destination charging locations,” as well as workplace and home chargers, Tesla owners complete an increasingly dense infrastructure. For now, however, it's not enough to change public--or industry-insider--opinion.

Perhaps one of the more surprising findings of the 1,000 industry executives surveyed is that “62% absolutely or partly agree that BEVs will fail due to infrastructure challenges.” This bearish outlook comes in spite of “electronic mobility” ranking as the most significant key trend.

By contrast, 78% of the same executives believe fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will be the “golden bullet” of electric mobility, although it ranks beneath the top three key trends. Some speculate that the current faith in FCEVs can be explained by the hope that they will solve the recharging and infrastructure issues BEVs face. The refueling process can be done quickly at a traditional gas station. The current recharging times of 25-45 minutes for BEVs seems unreasonable by contrast.

Nikola Motor Company designs and manufactures FCEVs, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and EV drivetrains. Last March, FreightWaves took a look at Nikola, and examined why large fleet carrier, US Xpress, decided to put in a large pre-sale order with the company. With FCEVs, hydrogen fuels the electric motor, which powers the truck. That makes it 100% emissions-free, and doesn’t suffer from BEV range limitations. The Nikola One is estimated to have an effective range of 800 to 1200 miles before a hydrogen fill-up is needed. It will take 15 minutes to refill the hydrogen tank.

At the time, Nikola planned to open 35 hydrogen stations per year with an eventual national network of 364 stations. We reached out to Nikola to follow up on where things stand some 10 months later. We also reached out to Kenworth, another truck company entering into the FCEV game.

Turns out, a lot has happened. Nikola has chosen Nel ASA as the sole equipment supplier to create the largest hydrogen network in the world that will cover over 2,000 miles and include 16 stations. Nikola has already kicked off­ two of the 16 stations with 14 more to follow as we speak.

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