Nikola Signs Electric Truck Deal, Breaks Ground For Phoenix-Area Plant

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 1:59pm

Nikola electric truck
Nikola Motors
Phoenix-based Nikola designs and makes zero-emission vehicle technologies and infrastructure.

Phoenix-based Nikola Motors recently announced a deal to produce 2,500 electrick trucks for another Phoenix company. Republic Services will use the vehicles to collect trash and recyclable materials. 

“This is a game changer,” Nikola CEO Mark Russell said in an Aug. 10 news release. “Refuse truck customers have always ordered chassis from truck OEMs and bodies from other suppliers. Nikola has fully integrated the chassis and body, covering both with a single factory warranty. Trucks will include both automated side loaders and front-end loaders — all of which will be zero-emission.”

A week before the deal was announced, Elizabeth Fretheim, head of business development and national accounts, addressed the Maricopa Association of Governments Economic Development Committee. She said the first battery electric trucks Nikola plans to bring to market next year will come through their partner’s facility in Germany and have a range up to 300 miles.

“And then we’re also going to be bringing a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the market,” she said. “We’ll have some trucks on the road before 2023, but 2023 is when we plan to go to production.”

Nikola groundbreaking
Nikola Motors
A groundbreaking ceremony for Nikola Motors manufacturing facility in Coolidge was held on July 23, 2020.

Production will take place about 70 miles south of Phoenix where Nikola is building a 1 million-square-foot facility. The first phase is scheduled for completion in late 2021 with the second phase projected within the following 12 to 18 months. Nikola said the facility represents a capital investment of approximately $600 million.

When Nikola broke ground off Highway 87 at east Houser Road and Vail Road in July, Mark Duchesne, global head of manufacturing, said: “The reason our company exists is in support of a sustainable future so everything we do in our manufacturing process and our building site will be done to ensure the smallest environmental footprint possible while making the highest quality, high tech products that will impact the sustainability of the planet.”

Nikola said at full production, the facility will run two shifts and produce approximately 35,000 units annually. Fretheim said about 400 people work at Nikola’s Phoenix headquarters. 

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