Iveco and Nikola to go their own way in zero-emission trucks

Italian commercial vehicle manufacturer Iveco and American electric truck startup Nikola are going their own way from now, the first focussing on Europe, the other on its North American market. Iveco will assume full ownership of the joint venture in Ulm, Germany. Iveco Group acquires the JV partially by paying in cash ($35 million) and by getting 20 million Nikola shares.

Both companies say in a press release they are “excited to enter a new phase of their partnership, which started in 2019 and has so far met all milestones to leverage the respective expertise to deploy zero-emission heavy-duty (Class 8) trucks in North America and Europe.” Smart talk to say it’s no messy divorce.

Licensed technology

Eventually, it won’t mean the end of the Nikola Tre, which basically is an Iveco. Initially meant for Europe, it is based on Iveco’s S-WAY platform and is jointly produced in Ulm, Germany. The site in Ulm is Iveco’s chassis engineering hub, which is to become the group’s leading hub for fuel-cell technology. Nikola delivered the electric drivetrain for the truck.

“Nikola will be granted the Iveco S-Way technology license for North America and related component supply from Iveco Group and will gain joint ownership of the intellectual property of Generation 1 eAxles, technology developed together with Iveco Group’s powertrain brand, FPT Industrial,” the press release says.

Iveco will be licensed “to freely access and continue developing vehicle control software for the jointly developed BEV and FCEV.” It will concentrate on Europe for the further development and commercialization of its own battery electric and fuel cell electric trucks, which includes rolling out its financing business model GATE. The latter stands for ‘Green & Advanced Transport Ecosystem’, Iveco Group’s all-inclusive electric truck rental model.

Hydrogen Nikola Tre

The hydrogen version of the Nikola Tre was presented at the IAA Transportation in Hannover in September 2022 as a ‘beta version’, which was believed to indicate a nearly-production-ready prototype. It should be able to cover around 800 km and start production in  2023. But no official word to date.

End of January 2023, Iveco announced with Nikola that it had reeled in an order from GP Joule, a system provider for integrated energy solutions based in Reussenkoege, Germany, for 100 fuel cell trucks. Thirty of the initial 100 Nikola Tre FCEVs were expected to be delivered to GP Joule in 2024 and the remaining 70 in 2025.

Partnership with Hyundai

But Iveco isn’t betting on one horse for hydrogen. In March 2022, Hyundai and Iveco announced a partnership to collaborate on hydrogen powertrains for commercial vehicles. In Hannover, they presented the result of this joint operation, the Iveco eDaily Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV).

This popular light commercial vehicle (although this version has a gross vehicle weight of 7,2 tons) is equipped with a 90 kW hydrogen fuel cell from Hyundai, a 140 kW electric motor, and a total tank capacity of 12 kg of hydrogen. According to Iveco, the payload of this heavier Daily is three tons, and tests show a driving range of 350 km.

The Iveco eDaily FCEV uses Hyundai fuel cell technology and has a range of around 350 km, with refueling times of less than 15 minutes /Iveco Group



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