CNH Industrial’s Iveco partners Nikola’s Fuel-Cell & Battery Electric Truck development strategy

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An announcement that attracted global news channels in that Iveco’s parent CNH Industrial N.V. entered into a strategic and exclusive Heavy Duty Truck partnership with Nikola Corporation, a start-up zero emission heavy-duty commercial vehicle technology innovator based in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.CNH Industrial will take a $250 million strategic stake in Nikola as a lead investor in order totransform the road transport industry towards emission neutrality in North America and Europe through the adoption of fuel-cell technology.

Nikola’s newly developed Class 8/Heavy Duty Trucks, powered by hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric technology, will be the first to be produced by Iveco at its European plants. The company’s game-changing business model will introduce an industry-first ‘all-in’ lease rate, which includes vehicle, service, maintenance and fuel costs, providing long-term total cost of ownership certainty at or below diesel costs.

FPT Industrial, the powertrain brands of CNH Industrial will assist in engineering and manufacturing expertise to industrialise Nikola’s fuel-cell and battery electric trucks. Nikola will contribute technologies for a European JV with CNH Industrial that will include class-leading fuel-cell expertise, e-axles, inverters, independent suspension, on-board hydrogen fuel storage, over-the-air software update functionality, infotainment, vehicle controls, vehicle-to-station communication programmes, power electronics, and access to a hydrogen fuelling network.

Fuel-cell technology is the logical next step to liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered engines as it builds on existing refuelling networks, enabling local on-site production of hydrogen. FPT Industrial has been at the forefront of alternative propulsion solutions for over two decades, having produced over 40,000 natural gas-powered engines to date. Iveco is the clear European leader in natural gas vehicles, with some 28,000 of its trucks and buses powered by FPT Industrial engines.

Short-term projects include the further development and introduction of the Nikola TWO fuel cell-powered Class 8 truck for the North American market, as well as the integration of the new Iveco S-Way truck technology into the battery-electric powered Nikola TRE cab-over model for both the North American and European markets. In the long-term, a European joint-venture will cover both battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV) launched by Q4 2022. Nikola plans to partner Iveco’s European sales, service and warranty channels to accelerate access to the European market.

At the announcement, held at the New York Stock Exchange, attended by Fleet Transport, Hubertus Mühlhäuser, Chief Executive Officer, CNH Industrial said: “The increasing focus on the recognition that there needs to be fundamental reductions in automotive emissions is driving our industry to rapidly seek advanced technological solutions. Iveco is now ideally placed to offer customers an even wider range of transport solutions including natural gas, electric and fuel-cell powered vehicles. Nikola’s choice of Iveco as its strategic partner is testament to our internationally recognized excellence in heavy duty trucks and alternative powertrain technologies.”

“The time has come to finally provide a zero-emission solution to the Heavy Duty Truck market. While other OEMs believe zero-emission solutions cannot happen in the timeframe regulators have mandated, Nikola, FPT Industrial and Iveco are proving that these timelines are not unreasonable,” added Trevor Milton, Chief Executive Officer, Nikola Corporation. “Nikola has the technology but needs a partner with a European network to achieve it in a timely manner. With CNH Industrial’s investment and partnership, we can now bring zero-emission trucks to Europe. It is exciting to see Iveco taking the lead in providing zero-emission solutions in Europe through its partnership with Nikola. By bringing CNH Industrial on board, we now have access to manufacturing know-how, purchasing power, validated truck parts, plant engineering and much more. Few will doubt our ability to commercialize a truck now.”

Full report and analysis from the conference will feature in the next edition of Fleet Transport