Nikola announces Badger BEV/FCEV pickup truck with 600-mile range

Jonathon Ramsey
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We still have a couple of years to wait for the production version of the Nikola semi. That hasn't stopped the Phoenix-based EV startup from announcing its next concept, the Badger electric pickup truck. Beyond the name, what stands out most about this new front in the EV pickup wars is that it appears Nikola plans to offer two versions: One has a battery-electric powertrain, the other a combination fuel-cell and battery-electric powertrain. The BEV model can go 300 miles on a charge; pairing it with the hydrogen fuel-cell stack doubles range to an estimated 600 miles, the push of a button in the cabin enabling the "battery-blend" mode. Continuous horsepower comes in at 455, peaking at 906 hp, torque rated at 980 pound-feet. With the help of a supercapacitor launch system that helps deliver repeatable performance, zero to 60 miles per hour takes just 2.9 seconds.

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Whereas Rivian's gone for the adventure market, Nikola's looking at fleet/work truck/construction operators as well. Said CEO Trevor Milton, the Badger "can handle a full day's worth of work without running out of energy. This electric truck can be used for work, weekend getaways, towing, off-roading or to hit the ski slopes without performance loss. No other electric pickup can operate in these temperatures and conditions." The firm tabbed Dave Sparks, otherwise known as Heavy D from the Discovery Channel show "Diesel Brothers," to help with the design and development "in real-world environments;" his efforts will be part of a video series documenting the Badger's birth and progress.

Starting with a base composed of a 160-kWh lithium-ion battery and a 120-kW fuel cell, the Badger wears traditional four-door truck bodywork over a five-seat interior. The sheetmetal stretches 231.8 inches long, 85 inches wide, and nearly 73 inches tall, with a 61.5-inch bed. That puts the Badger's roof four inches lower than a Ford F-150 Lariat 4x4 with the eight-foot Styleside bed, while being 1.5 inches wider. The strange thing is that the Badger is four inches longer than the Ford, with a bed that's up to three feet shorter (though you have to get the shorter F-150 SuperCab to get Ford's biggest box). If the renderings are to scale, it appears that the Badger's front end and front seating area take up a unexpected chunk of the truck's length, akin to the proportions on the Bollinger EV trucks.

To serve hardhat types, Nikola's engineered commercial-grade capability. We're told ambient temperatures of -20 Fahrenheit have negligible effect on performance or state-of-charge. A 15-kW power outlet can run equipment on-site "for approximately 12 hours without a generator." On its own, it can climb 40% grades. Towing capacity exceeds 8,000 pounds, and at its GVWR of 18,000 pounds with a trailer, the Badger can "launch from a standstill on a 30% grade without motor stall."

We've gone from a field that Workhorse plowed alone three years ago to a bumper crop of EV pickup announcements. The next two years could welcome rollouts from Bollinger (mid 2021), Ford, Hummer (late 2021), Neuron T.One, Rivian (late 2020), Tesla (late 2021), and the OG Workhorse that's now Lordstown Motors, with prices so far ranging from the claim of a $39,000 Cybertruck to the $125,000 B1. There's going to be one amazing group test in 2022.

Nikola said it's working with an OEM partner and the "Badger will be built in conjunction with another OEM utilizing their certified parts and manufacturing facilities," but wouldn't name the OEM. In Europe, Nikola's partnership with Iveco Trucks resulted in the production Nikola Tre semi coming together faster than anticipated, and an order book said to extend out "many years." Iveco, however, doesn't have any manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

We expect a bunch more information on the Badger — such as the name of the OEM partner and the location of Nikola's first of 700 eventual hydrogen stations nationwide — to come at Nikola World 2020, held in Phoenix this September. The company says it will have Badger test units on hand, and it's already starting accepting "limited reservations" for this year.

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