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UT-based startup unveils hydrogen-powered semi

by Ronan Glon

The hydrogen-powered semi has a range of up to 1,200 miles.

Utah-based startup Nikola Motor Company has introduced a futuristic hydrogen-powered semi truck during an event held last night in Salt Lake City.

Called simply One, the company's first model is powered by a hydrogen-electric drivetrain capable of delivering 1,000 horsepower and a staggering 2,000 pound-feet of torque. Electricity is generated by a hydrogen fuel cell, and it's stored in lithium-ion battery packs. All told, the truck boasts anywhere between 800 and 1,200 miles of range.

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of hydrogen-powered cars and trucks is the complete lack of an infrastructure. Nikola wants to overcome that by simply building a network of charging stations across the United States and Canada, much like Tesla has done with its Supercharger network. Construction work is scheduled to kick off in 2018.

The Nikola One will be available through a leasing program. Pricing information hasn't been released yet, but the 72-month lease will include unlimited hydrogen, a warranty, and free maintenance. Sales and maintenance will be handled by Ryder System, which has over 800 locations in North America.

Nikola will decide where the One will be built early next year. The project has generated a surprising amount of interest from the trucking industry; to date, the company has already received nearly $3 billion in pre-orders. Reservation holders will need to be patient, because production is scheduled to kick off "by 2020."