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WABCO Invests $10 Million in Hydrogen-electric Trucking Startup Nikola

Author: Michael Cheng   

WABCO Vehicle Control Systems, a reputable component and parts provider for commercial trucks, is advancing its capabilities to serve electrified units. The business, which was originally founded in 1869 as Westinghouse Air Brake Company, recently made a large investment in Nikola, a Utah-based electric trucking manufacturer.

Worth over $10 million, the deal was based on a $1 billion valuation and comes with a one percent equity stake in the startup.

"As vehicles become increasingly autonomous, electric and connected, WABCO continues to be at the forefront of breakthrough technology innovation," said Jacques Esculier, WABCO's chairman and CEO, in a statement.

"WABCO's technologies, notably braking, traction and stability control systems, continue to advance the transportation industry."

Nikola Partnerships and Agreements

The two parties agreed to the launching of several projects and developmental programs. Both groups signed a deal to boost vehicular and trucking safety technologies. This includes electronic breaking systems (EBS) and stability-control components.

WABCO is not the only establishment closely working with Nikola. In September 2017, the startup announced a partnership with Stuttgart, Germany-based Bosch, a leading automotive supplier with global reach. Bosch's eAxle design will be incorporated in Nikola's electric trucks (Nikola One and Nikola Two).

The revolutionary, modular eAxle is a standard vehicular axle that contains electric motor and power electronic components. Nikola also tapped PowerCell AB as a supplier of fuel cell components for its future fleet of electrified trucks.

Advancing the Commercial Trucking Sector

WABCO's strategic investment in Nikola will likely be used to supplement its efforts in releasing sustainable trucking units by 2021. The zero-emission units, which are powered by hydrogen fuel cells, will first be tested on a commercial level in urban environments later this year.

"WABCO is a vital business partner to enable autonomous driving, electronic braking, and stability control for trucks and trailers," noted Trevor Milton, Nikola's founder and CEO. "We have added a world-class supplier to the Nikola truck family and are looking forward to our collaboration to bring Nikola's zero emission trucks to market."

At the moment, Nikola is working on the following three commercial trucking models: Nikola Zero, Nikola One and Nikola Two. Nikola Zero, which is a utility task unit, was previously spun-off and is being developed under the company's powersports segment. The unique department focuses on developing vehicles for off-roading in deserts, rough hills and mountainous regions.

Nikola One is an electrified Class 8 truck, equipped with six motors (1,000 hp). To improve safety, the unit's breaking system is supplemented with regenerative components (in addition to conventional disc breaks). Initially showcased in 2016, the Nikola One offers a range of 800 to 1,200 miles per trip.

So far, the startup has received over 7,000 pre-orders for the Nikola One (worth over $2.3 billion). Around 5,000 units will be produced in Byrdstown, Tennessee.

Lastly, the Nikola Two offers an alternative form of daily transportation for trucking businesses. Designed for everyday trips and minor hauling projects, the day cab is expected to come with similar specifications found in the Nikola One

Michael Cheng
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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