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New EV company to make long-haul trucks, and the name is...

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by heysteveh, May 13, 2016.

  1. heysteveh

    heysteveh Member

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    Nikola Motor Company. I am not kidding: Nikola Motor Company | Premium Electric Vehicles

    I am a long-haul truck driver with a model 3 reservation so this was of great interest to me. They even mention Tesla a few times in describing their battery (3 times bigger than a P85D) among other things. The parallels with Tesla are amazing, even to the point of building a nationwide network of fuel stations (natural gas).

    The truck uses a natural gas fuel system to power turbines which recharge the battery (you NEVER have to plug in).

    I just don't know if I can get past the name!
     
  2. heysteveh

    heysteveh Member

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  3. Ryan MF

    Ryan MF Member

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    It's great to see investment and r&d going into these other areas of transportation. Next I'd like to see electric garbage trucks. The pollution coming from these things is orders of magnitude worse than cars.
     
  4. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    It's interesting, but my first question was where are they going to get the batteries? Using 320KWh of batteries per truck, getting enough batteries to build more than just a few will be difficult.
     
  5. Gerasimental

    Gerasimental Member

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    Wonder what battery size would be needed to get 1000 miles of range as a pure EV.
     
  6. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Hmmm.... this company is a joke right?

    It says under features for the truck:

    "Never plug in - turbines charge the battery while driving"

    Wait I just read some more. It's a CNG fueled truck.

    FUELING & CHARGING
    Q: How often do I need to re fuel?
    A: The Nikola One has a turbine on board that charges the batteries. This turbine can run on any fuel type and will need to be refueled about every 1,200 miles depending on terrain and load size.

    Q: How often do I need to charge the batteries?
    A: You don't. The truck has a turbine on board that automatically charges the batteries for you. You never need to plug in. The Nikola One also has a charging port to help keep the batteries topped off while you are resting at a Nikola fueling station.

    Q: How often does the turbine turn on during normal driving?
    A: There are many factors that determine when the turbine turns on to charge; terrain, load to motors, battery longevity, battery level and more. We anticipate the turbine will run for about an hour for every 3-5 hours you drive on pure electric.
     
  7. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    A lot depends on the size and weight. You get diminishing returns scaling up with batteries of the same density as we have today. If you had batteries with the same energy density of gasoline and about the same weight per cu m as the Model S, you could have about 3200 KWh in the Model S and get about 10,000 miles on a charge.

    Gasoline is about 33 KWh/US gal and the current batteries used by Tesla are about 1 KWh/US gal. The battery pack on the Model S takes up about 96 gallons of space. The theoretical limit for battery density today is about 4X where we are now, which would be about 4 KWh/US gal. That would give a Model S around a 400 KWh battery pack and about 1200 miles range. (Assuming the same weight.)

    We may get above 4X the density we have now, but that's at least one major scientific breakthrough away and nobody knows it's even possible now.

    If you're asking about a semi, that's a much heavier vehicle and hauling a load would mean it's going to need a lot more Wh/Km to get anywhere.
     
  8. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    I saw this the other day. The whole 'never plug it in' part is a quick giveaway that this isn't an EV - it's a series hybrid.

    Having said that, though, I think it's a large improvement over existing trucks in both driver experience and pollution/economy.

    If they succeed in gaining a noticeable market share with this, it also opens a number of doors for future electrification of trucking.
     
  9. Kandiru

    Kandiru Member

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    Not very creative, like copying another country's coat of arms.
     
  10. RobStark

    RobStark Active Member

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    They should have called it Trius or Primus because it is not an BEV but a hybrid.
     
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  11. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

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    Looks like an interesting idea. How reliable is a turbine on a moving vehicle? Presumably the CNG would be much? Cheaper than diesel?
     
  12. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    On airplanes, turbines are much, much more reliable than piston engines. Presumably that works be the case on a truck as well.

    There are far fewer moving parts, and much less to go wrong.

    (I've been suggesting that a micro turbine range extender was a logical choice for an EREV for a while now; there have been a couple prototypes/concepts like that over the years.)
     
  13. Gerasimental

    Gerasimental Member

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    they are also much, much, much, much more expensive.
     
  14. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    OK some super back-of-the-napkin math:

    According to their homepage you'd need to refuel about ever 1200 miles.

    Assumed efficiency in gas turbine conversion of CNG to electricity (being optimistic here): 50%
    Assumed efficiency in charging the battery from gas turbine (since they say it will run for about one hour every 3-5 hours I'm assuming very high output, probably somewhere around 320 kW since the battery is supposed to be 320 kWh): 90%
    Assumed Wh/mile figure (a typical diesel trailer truck achieves 5.5-6.5 mpg, while a typical car comparable to Model S is around 20 mpg): 1000 Wh/mile.
    Energy content of 1 kg of natural gas: 53.6 MJ.

    Now putting all this together would suggest you need 1200 miles x 1000 Wh/mile / 0.9 / 0.5 = 2666667 Wh worth of natural gas = 9600 MJ worth of natural gas = 179 kg of NG.

    Is that a big tank?
     
  15. muleferg

    muleferg Member

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    I thank I will keep my $12,000 Polaris EV UTV Ranger 500. rather than buy a $42,000 Zero Nikola.
     

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  16. Evbwcaer

    Evbwcaer Member

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    Why would you have such a large/expensive/heavy battery on a hybrid? I am wondering if there is something in the nature of turbines that you don't want to run them frequently or at mid throttle? If the battery was 175kwh, could the turbine run for half as long, twice as often, giving about the same efficiency net and saving 175kwh of weight and cost?

    Sounds like the truck can be plugged in, I wonder if they are down playing that because the market is not ready for it? I wonder what charging standard they will use? Maybe these guys will take up the Supercharger/Tesla standard, it is fast enough that it could provide meaningful charge, Tesla is open to sharing, they would not have to develop their own standard....seems like a potential fit.

    Just thinking "out loud."
     
  17. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    I'm guessing the turbine gets the best efficiency at a given output, and that efficiency drops if it's being throttled. I assume the big battery would make sense not mostly because it contains 320kWh of energy but rather because it would be able to output xxx (not clear from their specs page) kW of power - power that will be needed to accelerate a heavy load or get up a hill.
     
  18. SageBrush

    SageBrush Active Member

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    #18 SageBrush, May 19, 2016
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
    Yep.
    Starting from 50% (?) thermal efficiency and then accounting for conversion losses should result I imagine in 40 - 45% tank to wheels. So the advantages are
    1. NG rather than diesel. Much less tailpipe emissions of criteria pollutants and ~ 2/3rds the CO2
    2. 40 - 45% thermo efficiency
    3. Regen
    4. Grid use instead of idling at stops
    Sounds like a good transition or urban vehicle to me, although electrified train and lorry via overhead cable is more to my liking for the bulk of goods transport miles

    This study by the ICCT* says that large diesel engines approach 38% thermo efficiency in the FTP and UDDS EPA test cycles.

    *The same folks that nailed VW's hide to the wall
     
  19. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney Active Member

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    #19 ItsNotAboutTheMoney, May 19, 2016
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
    A common alternative option for garbage trucks is CNG. Garbage trucks go to landfill; landfills generate biogas. That would help reduce their emissions significantly.

    You also need to remember that garbage trucks travel on residential streets where adding more weight to a heavy vehicle could have significant impact on the road.

    Given stop-start on residential roads, and then hauling the load somewhere, it might be that despite the inefficiency of turbines, serial-PHEV would be a good approach.
     
  20. Saghost

    Saghost Active Member

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    Efficiency at reduced power (and especially idle) and speed of reaction to throttle inputs are indeed two if the biggest weaknesses of a typical gas turbine - which is one reason the series hybrid approach makes sense.

    I was surprised at the size of the pack too - I think that's enough battery to cover a couple hundred miles at freeway speeds on the flat, but there wasn't any mention of plugging it in that I saw.

    Maybe they are keeping most of it as a reserve for climbing mountains?
     

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