CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A new truck manufacturing company said it will soon be building electric-powered semi-trucks in Tennessee.
Nikola Motor Co. CEO Trevor Milton unveiled his plans last week in Salt Lake City to revamp the trucking industry by replacing diesel engines with hydrogen fuel and battery-powered electric motors, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported (http://bit.ly/2h5uSzu).
Some of the Utah-based company's first trucks will be operated by drivers with U.S. Xpress Enterprises, Chattanooga's biggest trucking carrier.
Milton, 34, said he plans to build a $1 billion factory to assemble the new Nikola One trucks within the next five years.
In the meantime, Fitzgerald Glider Kits, an automotive parts maker in Byrdstown, Tennessee, will produce the first 5,000 Nikola One trucks, which Milton said should be ready for the road by 2019. Each is expected to cost $375,000.
U.S. Xpress CEO Max Fuller said he is constantly evaluating new technologies and was impressed by Milton's plans to create a high-power, long-lasting electric engine.
"Any time there are new technologies in the market that we think will be a game changer, we try to participate with those manufacturers that are coming to the market and try to help them understand what's needed in our industry," Fuller said.
The Nikola One truck should be able to travel 800 to 1,200 miles while carrying a full truck load without stopping, and could be refueled at hydrogen fueling stations Nikola also plans to eventually build, Milton said.
Customers could save more than $20,000 a year leasing the Nikola One compared to an average diesel semitractor-trailer, consulting firm Frost & Sullivan projected in a report last week.