Nikola lands industry’s largest electric trash truck order

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Updated Sep 15, 2020

Nikola announced this week a minimum order of 2,500 battery-electric refuse trucks from Republic Services, the largest of its kind yet for the waste haul industry.

The order, which is expandable up to 5,000 trucks, is scheduled to begin full production deliveries in 2023 with on-road testing likely to begin in early 2022. The refuse trucks are anticipated to carry up to an industry-leading 720kWh of energy storage.

“Nikola specializes in heavy-duty, zero-emission Class 8 trucks,” said Nikola Founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton. “The refuse market is one of the most stable markets in the industry and provides long-term shareholder value.”

Republic’s electric trucks will feature the powertrain from the Nikola Tre cabover and will be spec’d with a battery-electric power plant instead of a fuel cell option. A single charge is expected to deliver up to 150 miles of range while servicing up to 1,200 cans.

“The Nikola Tre powertrain is ideal for the refuse market as it shares and uses the same batteries, controls, inverters and e-axle,” Milton said. “By sharing the Tre platform, we can drive the cost down for both programs by using the same parts. You couldn’t pick a better partner than Republic Services, a leader in long-term environmental sustainability and customer service. Republic Services will help us ensure the Nikola Tre meets customer and fleet lifecycle demands and we are excited to have them participate in the design process.”

Milton has said before that his company’s fuel cell trucks are geared towards the more demanding duty cycles of long-haul while his all-electric trucks are tailored more so for in-city use with smaller range requirements.

Milton told Hard Working Trucks that overnight charging is recommended for the trucks. Nikola will not be supplying the chargers.

“Nikola provides the expertise and recommendation on standardizing the charging infrastructure to ensure it is compatible with the truck and results in the highest level of efficiencies,” Milton said. “Republic Services will then oversee and lead the execution of the charging infrastructure.”

Municipalities will purchase the trucks, Milton said. Republic Services is the second largest recycling and solid waste provider in the U.S. Its electric truck order with Nikola marks its third zero-emission vehicle order and its largest ZEV order to date which is also the largest order of its kind yet for the refuse industry.

“This is a game changer,” said Nikola CEO, Mark Russell. “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.”

The powertrain software will be limited to 1,000 horsepower and, according to Nikola, is expected to outperform current diesel and natural gas competitors. Nikola reports that the new platform can give refuse trucks nearly three-times the power of natural gas and diesel options, giving operators the ability to go up hills with full loads without issue, a challenge natural gas vehicle manufacturers have been working to solve.