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Home / Business / Hydrogen Truck Maker Nikola claims it has groundbreaking battery technology – and doesn't care if you're skeptical

Hydrogen Truck Maker Nikola claims it has groundbreaking battery technology – and doesn't care if you're skeptical




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Nikola Motor, the Phoenix-based startup that wants to disrupt truck transport with hydrogen powered futuristic semis, it says it has developed a new type of dual-energy battery cell, just 40% of the weight and half of the cost of current lithium-ion batteries used in Tesla's and other consumer-marketed electric vehicles.

But it does not provide much detail for now, and public demonstrations will not happen in about 1

0 months.

Battery packs that use the new cells, which do not use nickel, cobalt and other metals commonly found in 2170 lithium-ion cells preferred by Tesla, can increase the range of current electric passenger cars from 300 miles per charge to as much as 600 miles with "little or no increase in bat size and weight, "the company said. Nikola has subjected his cell to vigorous testing, saying that charging and discharging them "over 2000 times has shown acceptable lifetime performance."

It is equivalent to driving a vehicle several hundred thousand miles, says Nikola CEO and Founder of Trevor Milton, who does not hold back in how he characterizes the new cell's potential. "This is the biggest development we've seen in the battery world," he tells Forbes .

For the time being, however, he will not provide details on how the cells work and what university scientists Nikola has worked with to develop them (or the battery engineering team it procures to begin pre-production).

"It's the world's first stand-alone electrode car battery, he says." We went to a completely different type of chemical, with a lithium component. It's hard to explain what it is without giving up the secret sauce. "

By avoiding using metals that add cost and weight to lithium-ion batteries, Milton says Nikola's cells will be exactly half the price per kilowatt-hour. Cutting down mining for cobalt and nickel will also improve the cell's overall environmental impact. such a battery, it would be a game changer for electric cars and trucks, but he knows that Nikola must show that it works as promised and can be mass produced.

Since the late 1990s, automakers have been searching for viable battery technology that can provide range and performance gasoline, but still reasonable. Many years of unsuccessful promises have created considerable skepticism among car engineers and managers, some of whom are pondering "lies" "[Nnspsp;

] Milton is unhappy with the skepticism and says Nikola will begin to allow the evaluation of his cell technically by other companies he refused to identify. "We have never promised anything and have not been delivered," he says. "I don't care if they don't believe it." & Nbsp;

(For more on Nikola and Trevor Milton, see "Behind New Billionaire Trevor Milton's $ 3 Billion to Make America Run on Hydrogen" from September 30, 2019 edition of Forbes .)

Public demonstrations of batteries using the cells will take place within ten months at the company's technology meeting at Nikola World in Phoenix in late 2020. Milton says the company is in talks with "several car manufacturers" about the cells and will probably choose one as a primary partner. Production of battery packs using the technology can begin as early as 2021. & nbsp; (It has already partnered with companies such as Bosch, Meritor and Norway's Nel Hydrogen for their fuel cell cars.)

Nikola has raised around $ 500 million to get its Hydrogen Cell cars in production, and gets a value of $ 3 billion , and must acquire significantly more to also build their own network of hydrogen fuel stations to operate them.

Each fuel cell truck also uses a battery pack to supplement the hydrogen drive system, so any improvement to the battery will increase the range or reduce production costs. And while Nikola still considers hydrogen to be the best option for long-haul semi-trucks, the plans to also offer only battery variants of all three cab options will benefit from more powerful, cheaper battery packs. & Nbsp; & nbsp; & nbsp;

At present, Tesla has the automotive industry's most efficient battery systems in terms of reach and performance. Still, the high cost of the powertrain is also why Elon Musk's company is still struggling to deliver an affordable market vehicle, after the Honda Civic or Toyota Prius in the mid-to-low $ 20,000 range. The cheapest Model 3 sedan is the 250 kilometer Standard Range Plus which sells for $ 40,690 out the door, exclusive of sales tax.

Batteries add about $ 10,000 to the price of an EV compared to a petrol car, according to MIT's [19659019] Insights Into Future Mobility released Tuesday.

"Although battery costs have gone down significantly, predictions about future price falls must sink with caution as they often fail to take into account the cost of raw materials used to make batteries," the report states. Based on their analysis, MIT researchers estimate that the cost of lithium-ion packs will not fall to 50% of the 2018 level until as late as 2030.

So how did Nikola come up with a new approach to EV batteries like Tesla and it seems that a whole industry has been missed?

“They looked in the wrong place and tried to make design improvements to what was already there. We started with a completely different approach to this, which gets out all the metals, "says Milton. & Nbsp;

He has a long way to go to prove it.

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Nikola Motor, the Phoenix-based startup that wants to disrupt a truck with hydrogen-fueled futuristic electric semis, says it has developed a new type of dual-cell battery cell, only 40 % of the weight and half of the cost of current lithium-ion batteries used in Teslas and other consumer electric vehicles.

But it does not provide many details for now, and public demonstrations will not happen in about 10 months.

Battery packs that use the new cells, which do not use nickel, cobalt and other metals commonly found in Tesla's 2170 lithium-ion cells, can increase the range of current electric passenger cars from 300 miles per charge to as much as 600 miles w with "little or no increase in battery size and weight," the company said. Nikola has subjected the cells to rigorous testing, saying that charging and discharging them "has shown over 2,000 times acceptable lifetime performance."

It is equivalent to driving a vehicle several hundred thousand miles, says Nikola CEO and Founder Trevor Milton, who does not hold back in how he characterizes the new cell's potential. "This is the biggest development we've seen in the battery world," he tells Forbes .

For the time being, however, he will not provide details on how the cells work and what university scientists Nikola has worked with to develop them (or the battery engineering team it procures to begin pre-production).

"It's the world's first standalone electrode car battery, he says." We went to a completely different type of chemical, with a lithium component. It's hard to explain what it is without giving up the secret sauce. "

By avoiding using metals that add cost and weight to lithium-ion batteries, Milton says Nikola's cells will be exactly half the price per kilowatt-hour. Cutting down mining for cobalt and nickel will also improve the cell's overall environmental impact. such a battery, it would be a game changer for electric cars and trucks, but he knows that Nikola must show that it works as promised and can be mass produced.

Since the late 1990s, automakers have been searching for viable battery technology that can provide range and performance gasoline, but still reasonable. Many years of unsuccessful promises have created considerable skepticism among car engineers and managers, some of whom are pondering "lies" "

Milton is unfamiliar with skepticism and says Nikola will begin to allow cell technology evaluation by other companies he refused to identify. "We have never promised anything and have not been delivered," he says. "I don't care if they don't believe it."

(For more on Nikola and Trevor Milton, see "Behind New Billionaire Trevor Milton's $ 3 Billion to Make America Run on Hydrogen" from September 30 2019 edition of Forbes magazine.)

Public demonstrations of cell-using batteries will take place within ten months at the company's technology meeting at Nikola World in Phoenix in late 2020. Milton says the company is in talks with "several car manufacturers" about the cells and will likely choose one as a primary partner. Production of battery packs that use the technology could begin as early as 2021. (It has already partnered with companies such as Bosch, Meritor and Norway's Nel Hydrogen for their fuel cell cars. )

Nikola has raised around $ 500 million to get hydrogen fuel cell cars into production, achieves a $ 3 billion valuation, and needs to raise significantly more to also build their own network of fuel stations to operate them.

Each fuel cell truck also uses a battery pack to supplement the hydrogen drive system, so any improvement to the battery will increase the range or reduce production costs. And while Nikola still considers hydrogen to be the best option for long-distance semi-trucks, the plans to offer only the battery variants of all three of the truck's cab options will benefit from more powerful, cheaper battery packs.

At present, Tesla has the automotive industry's most efficient battery systems in terms of reach and performance. Still, the high cost of the powertrain is also why Elon Musk's company is still struggling to deliver an affordable market vehicle, after the Honda Civic or Toyota Prius in the mid-to-low $ 20,000 range. The cheapest Model 3 sedan is the 250 kilometer Standard Range Plus which sells for $ 40,690 out the door, exclusive of sales tax.

Batteries add about $ 10,000 to the price of an EV compared to a petrol car, according to MIT's Insights Into Future Mobility released Tuesday.

"Although battery costs have gone down significantly, predictions about future price falls must sink with caution as they often fail to take into account the cost of raw materials used to make batteries," the report states. Based on their analysis, MIT researchers estimate that the cost of lithium-ion packs will not fall to 50% of the 2018 level until as late as 2030.

So how did Nikola come up with a new approach to EV batteries like Tesla and it seems that a whole industry has been missed?

“They looked in the wrong place and tried to make design improvements to what was already there. We started with a completely different approach to this, which gets out all the metals, says Milton.

He must until the end of 2020 to prove it.


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