Fuel-cell semi truck startup Nikola gets $250M investment from CNH Industrial

Coming (hopefully) by 2022.


Nikola, the startup working to bring fuel-cell-powered semi trucks to market, just became that much more credible. On Tuesday, the company said it’s received a $250 million investment from CNH Industrial during its Series D round of funding.

What is CNH Industrial? Certainly not a household name, but the company operates Iveco and FPT Industrial. The two subsidiaries are enormous players in the commercial vehicle and powertrain market and CNH’s backing gives Nikola much-needed credibility as it looks to revolutionize semi trucks and their powertrains. Iveco operates 28,000 trucks and buses with natural gas engines from LPT. Each partner said hydrogen fuel-cell technology is the logical stepping stone.

Per Tuesday’s announcement, Iveco and FPT will bring its engineering manufacturing background to help prepare Nikola’s powertrains and semi trucks for production. The work will extend to all three announced Nikola models: the One, Two and Tre, which are sleeper, day-cab and heavy-duty trucks, respectively. The latter is specifically for Europe. 

Speaking of Europe, Nikola will form a joint venture with CNH Industrial and contribute its expertise in fuel-cell powertrains and hydrogen fuel storage among other areas.

In the near-term, both companies will also work to implement Iveco’s truck technology, called S-Way, into the Tre semi model. By 2022, when Nikola expects to launch all three of its models, it said the company will leverage Iveco’s sales and service network plus its warranty channel to crack into Europe more effectively.

Nikola is still working with partners to build a hydrogen refueling network it will desperately need if it wants to sell its trucks in the US, and it didn’t provide any new information on that project. Previously, the company said it wanted to build 364 hydrogen stations across the country. With a full tank of hydrogen and a charged battery, the Nikola One can go between 800 and 1,200 miles.

The company has been quiet over the past year. At the start of 2018, Nikola announced it selected Arizona to manufacture its fuel-cell semi trucks. Later that year, Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch said it placed an order for 800 Nikola Two day cab semis. With CNH Industrial onboard, we may see those preorders start to climb.

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Inside the Nikola One hydrogen-electric semi-truck