Anheuser-Busch Nikola Two fuel cell semiEnlarge Photo
Anheuser-Busch bet big on hydrogen fuel for its semitrailer trucks Thursday. The Budweiser beermaker announced it would buy up to 800 big rigs from Nikola Motor Company by 2025 and nearly replace its entire dedicated corporate fleet with trucks powered by renewable energy.
The agreement is largely contingent on Nikola building hydrogen refueling stations across the country, mostly along Anheuser-Busch’s frequently used routes.
Nikola said in a statement that it expects to have more than 700 hydrogen fueling stations across the U.S. by 2028. The stations will be open to the public, owned by Nikola, and available for use by hydrogen-powered cars. Nikola said it would have two stations operational by the end of 2018 and that 28 more have been ordered from its supplier. The stations would be powered by sustainable energy sources such as wind or solar to produce the hydrogen.
The announcement follows Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to buy 40 semi-trucks from Tesla last year. Ingrid De Ryck, vice president for sustainability for Budweiser, said the hydrogen-powered trucks would be incorporated into the same fleet as the electric trucks.
“Both of the solutions can coexist and just play different roles,” De Ryck said.
Tesla has promised a 500-mile range for its Semi, while the Nikola Two is expected to have a range of 500-1,200 miles.
Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company, said that early, pre-production trucks would be delivered to Anheuser-Busch by the end of 2018 and that the companies would unveil production versions next year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“With nearly $9 billion in pre-order reservations, we are building to order, not speculation, and are very excited for what’s to come,” he said in a statement.
The order for 800 trucks would effectively replace the entire dedicated Anheuser-Busch fleet of semi-trucks. Officials from Anheuser-Busch said that their dedicated fleet represents around one-third of its overall distribution network and the trucks collectively haul roughly 12.5 billion cans of beer across the country.
Neither Anheuser-Busch nor Nikola said how much the deal was worth. Milton said that the overall cost for the trucks would eventually rival diesel-powered trucks, which typically cost around $150,000. Milton said that the cost for each fuel-cell truck would rival $0.90 to $1 per mile traveled, including the truck, fuel, and consumables.
Officials from Anheuser-Busch said their orders from Nikola would be mostly day cabs, or Two models. Nikola builds a sleeper cab called One.
Production of the Tesla Semi could begin in 2019. Nikola said it could begin manufacturing trucks in 2020 at their facility in Buckeye, Arizona.
Medium- and heavy-duty trucks contributed 23 percent of the overall greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, according to the EPA. In total, transportation contributed 27 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.