Nikola vs Tesla: Nikola Motors has announced a Cybertruck-rival called the Badger, which aims to trump Tesla's pickup in terms of power and range by going 100 miles further, thanks to its hydrogen fuel cell and battery-based powertrain. While Tesla has its own set of challenges to sort out before the Cybertruck arrives, the Badger will have to deal with the currently weak hydrogen fueling infrastructure, the added costs of employing this technology as well as putting the final vehicle into production. The company hasn't said anything about the Badger's price or when it'll go on sale, but that info along with a prototype is likely to appear at Nikola's World 2020 event in September.

Arizona-based Nikola Motors first appeared on the map in 2016 with their electric semi and 4x4 UTV concepts and now the company has another concept on its hands with the Badger pickup truck. The vehicle is said to be in early stages of development for which Nikola is targeting the following specs:

  • 600 miles on blended FCEV/BEV
  • 300 miles on BEV alone
  • Operates on blended FCEV/BEV or BEV only by touch of a button
  • 906HP peak
  • 455HP continuous
  • 980 ft. lbs. of torque
  • 160kWh, flooded module --- lithium-ion battery
  • 120kW fuel cell
  • Advanced Supercapacitor Launch Assist that blends with lithium ion and fuel-cell
  • -20F operating environments without major performance or SOC losses
  • The towing capacity of over 8,000 pounds
  • Operating targets without motor stalls up to 50% grade
  • 15kW power export outlet
  • Compatible with industry standard charging for BEV mode
  • Five seats
  • Truck dimensions: 5,900mm long x 1,850mm tall x 2,160mm wide and a 1,560mm bed width

As with EVs packing this much power, the Badger is aiming for a 0-60 mph sprint in just 2.9 seconds, which interestingly, is identical to what Tesla has set for its top of the line Tri-Motor Cybertruck. However, unlike Tesla's EV, the Badger (at least in these renders) looks much more like a conventional pickup, with shades of the Toyota Tacoma in the sides and the Ford F-150 in the front.

"Nikola has billions worth of technology in our semi-truck program, so why not build it into a pickup truck?" said Trevor Milton, Nikola CEO, adding that he's been working on the pickup program for years and believes that the market is "now ready for something that can handle a full day's worth of work without running out of energy."

Nikola plans to offer the Badger in both, a battery-electric configuration (BEV) and a hydrogen fuel cell configuration (FCEV). The latter option is likely going to make it more expensive and does raise questions about the fueling infrastructure, which is why Nikola says it's planning a network of 700 hydrogen stations for North American customers.

"The Nikola Badger is a game changer. The program will help drive down the cost of the fuel-cell components on our semi-truck while accelerating the hydrogen station rollout. Giving customers the option to order a fuel-cell or battery electric version will ensure we drive the cost down for everyone across our lineup," said Nikola president, Mark Russell.

For making the Badger, the company will also utilize parts and manufacturing facilities of another OEM, though the partner was not named.

It remains to be seen if Nikola can garner enough customer interest and reservations for its pickup, which at some point in the future, will be going against the likes of the Tesla Cybertruck, Rivian, and the resurrected Hummer EV, alongside the emerging competition.