Arizona-based electric truck producer Nikola Motor Co. announced Thursday that it had scored an "up to 800" electric truck order from Anheuser-Busch, the largest beer maker in the world.
Nikola said it would start delivering the trucks to the beer distributor in 2020, and it would show off a final production version of the truck at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. To support this and other future orders, the company is planning to build "over 700 hydrogen stations" in the United States and Canada by 2028.
Cooperating with Anheuser-Busch and using its own capital, Nikola said 28 hydrogen fueling stations along the beer company's heaviest routes would be built, and the first two of them will open later this year.
The stations will be usable by fuel-cell vehicles made by other companies. Nikola also plans to process its own hydrogen fuel at each station with on-site solar power, wind power or by buying electricity created through renewable sources such as hydropower.
This is not the first time that Anheuser-Busch placed on medium-haul trucks powered by renewable energy. It ordered 40 electric semi trucks from Tesla last December. Tesla uses batteries in its powertrain technology while Nikola uses hydrogen fuel cells, which creates electricity by splitting hydrogen electrons from the protons.
The fuel cells technology is believed better for trucking than the battery cells used in most electric vehicles because the system is much lighter and weight is a key concern in long-range transportation.
Nikola Motor is named after Nikola Tesla, a renowned electrical engineer and physicist in history. Tesla was also the name for the Serbian-American inventor. Both companies are vying for share in a market dominated by diesel-fueled trucks.
Nikola on Tuesday sued Tesla for 2 billion U.S. dollars, claiming Elon Musk's company stole the former's aerodynamic truck design and other intellectual property.