When a little-known automotive startup, Nikola Motor Company, stepped on the scene in 2016, they came with a bang and got noticed almost immediately. The startup promised to build an all-electric truck with a capacity to haul 80,000 lbs and travel for at least 600 miles. In early 2020, the firm was set to fulfill its promise by announcing a new truck, dubbed the Badger.
It was the most anticipated vehicle of the time, and the reasons were not far-fetched. The Nikola Badger was supposed to be a battery-electric/hydrogen fuel-cell hybrid like nothing we’ve seen before. Set to provide competition for Tesla’s proposed Cybertruck, the Badger was billed for production in 2022. Amid all the anticipation and hype surrounding the Badger, the vehicle seemed too good to be true. Here’s what we learned about the Badger Electric Truck.
10 Preorder Frenzy
On the 8th of June 2020, Nikola, through its founder—Trevor Milton—announced that the Nikola Badger electric pickup truck would be available for preorder on the 29th of June 2020. The reservations did open on that day, and the deposits ranged from $250 to $5,000, which were all refundable until the 1st of November 2020, when the $250 deposit would be non-refundable.
Reservations were available in three packages, and the announcement helped shoot the firm’s stock to around 104%. The company claimed to have over 14,000 reservations for the Badger.
9 Partnership With General Motors
When Nikola announced that the Badger would be available for preorder on June 29th, 2020, the company received a significant boost in shares. They got even more buzz when General Motors announced on the 8th of September 2020 that they would be involved in the development and building of Nikola’s new models. This included the provision of batteries and fuel cells for the Badger.
In return, General Motors would get an 11% stake in Nikola which included a seat on the company’s board and $2 billion worth of stock.
8 General Motors Pulled Out
After building up a high level of anticipation, the Badger hit a stumbling block. In September 2020, Hindenburg Research, a short-seller, published a report titled “Nikola, How to Parlay an Ocean of Lies into a Partnership with the Largest Auto OEM in America.”
This report accused Nikola of being fraudulent. On November 30th, General Motors and Nikola announced a revision of their deal. GM would only supply Nikola with fuel cells rather than receive its equity and build its Badger.
7 Engine And Performance
The Nikola Badger electric truck would have a continuous 455 horsepower output, and it would generate a peak output of 906 horsepower and a torque of 980 lb-ft. In terms of the performance, its quickest version was reportedly going to accelerate from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds.
The truck would be able to operate on 40 percent grades, and it would also be able to launch a standstill without stalling on a 30 percent grade. The Badger would be able to do all of this while pulling a fully loaded trailer and with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 18,000 lbs.
6 Towing And Payload Capacity
The company has stated that the Badger would be coming with a towing capacity that would exceed 8,000 pounds. Still, there wasn’t any information disclosed about the truck’s specific maximum capacity or any details about the Badger’s payload.
With other trucks such as the Tesla Cybertruck already boasting of different motors like the Dual and Tri-Motor with five-figure towing capacities, the Nikola Badger electric truck was inferior to its supposed competition.
5 It Would Have 700 Hydrogen Fuelling Stations
Nikola announced that the truck would have a 160 kWh battery pack and a 120 kWh fuel cell which would be optional. The battery-electric was said to have a driving range of 300 miles with a single charge, while the joint battery and fuel cell electric was said to have a driving range of 600 miles, half of which comes from the battery.
There’s currently a limited number of hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S., but Nikola said they were planning to install new Hydrogen filling stations across 700 locations across North America.
Although only a rendering of the Badger’s interior was seen, the illustration suggested that the truck’s interior would have a mixture of traditional and futuristic styles. According to the insights given by the company, the truck had seating for up to five people, the materials were completely waterproof, and it also had a hidden refrigerator.
It had a conventional center console with multiple cup holders, and it also had a fresh floor-mounting system throughout the entire cabin to safely secure cargo.
3 Hindenburg Research
All was going on smoothly with the Nikola Badger, especially after GM’s partnership with the startup. But all of this would change on September 10, 2020. The automotive world would wake up to the report by Hindenburg Research claiming that Nikola misled investors with false claims.
Although there were rebuttals from the company, they were not strong enough to stop customers from demanding refunds. Additionally, auto giants, GM, who had earlier issued a statement of support for Nikola, reviewed their involvement in the Badger project.
2 Connectivity And Infotainment
The Nikola Badger electric truck was going to feature a cluster of digital instruments along with a huge infotainment touchscreen system. There was not much information to go on regarding the infotainment and connectivity features apart from a rendering.
The truck’s interior showed a row of physical buttons and knobs below the giant horizontal screen in the middle of the dashboard. These buttons could have been intended to control the HVAC system or interact with the digital interface.
1 What Happens To The Nikola Badger?
After the announcement by Nikola and GM to review their deal, it was agreed by mutual consent that the Badger would be axed. As the Badger depended heavily on an OEM participant (GM) to succeed, it would be implausible to continue production plans.
However, Nikola shifted its focus to building a new vehicle, Nikola Two. The new project would be different from the Badger, as it is self-propelled. For now, the Badger is a case of what might have been.
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About The Author
Hillary Princewill (151 Articles Published)
Hillary Princewill is a Nigerian writer who grew up spending a lot of time in his Dad’s garage. He loves sports car, F1 and military vehicles.