Share values for Nikola surged by 22% on Monday after news broke that the hydrogen-fuelled vehicle startup had inked a deal to provide 2,500 zero emissions garbage trucks to waste disposal company Republic Services.
The shares closed at $US44.81 ($A62.47) on Monday, and its latest surge follows a more significant jump in June when Nikola’s market cap value eclipsed that of Ford on news of a reverse merger and the unveiling of the Badger hydrogen ute (known as a pickup in the US).
Republic Services is the second largest recycling and solid waste provider in the US, and says the agreement represents a key step in the company’s plan to reduce emissions and shore up operational efficiency.
It cites the lack of engine idling, the ability to recoup energy through braking, and almost silent operation and reduced emissions as some of the economic and environmental benefits.
The trucks will be built on Nikola’s Tre hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV) powertrain, with first units to be delivered starting in 2023, and the possibility of the fuel-cell fleet then doubling to 5,000 vehicles.
“Nikola specializes in heavy-duty, zero-emission Class 8 trucks. The refuse market is one of the most stable markets in the industry and provides long-term shareholder value,” said Nikola founder and chair Trevor Milton in a statement.
“The Nikola Tre powertrain is ideal for the refuse market as it shares and uses the same batteries, controls, inverters and e-axle. By sharing the Tre platform, we can drive the cost down for both programs by using the same parts.”
According to Nikola, the zero emissions refuse trucks will have an operational driving range of up to 241km, and with the powertrain limited to 1,000 horsepower, Nikola says they will outperform their diesel competitors.
Despite the surge in stock values, the news has been met with a degree of skepticism as the company has yet to deliver a volume production vehicle to date, and the rendered image that accompanied the press release is a flat bed only, with no waste disposal unit attached.
But the wording of the agreement is clear, with Republic Services saying it will “develop and purchase” the waste disposal trucks with and from Nikola, and Milton confirming in his statement that the deal with the waste disposal company involves them participating in the design process.
Nikola also broke ground on its first factory, which is located in Arizona and which will first build the Nikola Tre and Nikola Two trucks, in July.
Jon Vander Ark, president of Republic Services, said in a statement that the partnership with Nikola “represents the industry’s first large-scale commitment to fleet electrification.”
“We expect to realize significant operating cost savings and environmental benefits from these trucks, and we are confident that our customers, communities and employees will benefit from our bold commitment.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.