In Colorado's most recent step toward "bold climate action goals," a company has started selling its zero-emission semi trucks in the state, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Nikola Corporation — an Arizona-based manufacturer of class 8 all-electric big rigs — will work with Wagner Equipment Corporation to sell the Nikola Tre trucks in Colorado.
According to CDOT, the battery-electric trucks have a range up to 350 miles. Starting next year, Wagner will also start selling Nikola Tre hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles.
CDOT said the cost to electrically charge a Nikola Tre is about half the cost of diesel fuel for the same trip. Charging a personal electric vehicle for that same trip would be equivalent to about $1 per gallon, CDOT said.
Nikola found itself in hot water in 2021, when the company agreed at the end of the year to a $125 million settlement over charges that it defrauded investors after misleading them about its products, technical advances, and financial prospects, according to the Associated Press. The company's founder and former chair, Trevor Milton, pleaded not guilty to two counts of securities fraud and wire fraud in July 2021. He resigned as chairman in September. The Securities and Exchange Commission later said that Milton embarked on a public relations campaign aimed at inflating and maintaining Nikola’s stock price before the company had produced a vehicle, according to the AP.
In a Dec. 21, 2021 statement after the settlement, the company said: "We are pleased to bring this chapter to a close as the company has now resolved all government investigations. We will continue to execute on our strategy and vision to deliver on our business plan, including delivering trucks to customers, expanding our manufacturing facilities and our sales and service network, and building out our hydrogen infrastructure ecosystem including hydrogen production, distribution and dispensing stations. Under the terms of the resolution, Nikola neither admits nor denies the SEC’s findings in this matter. The company has taken action to seek reimbursement from its founder, Trevor Milton, for costs and damages in connection with the government and regulatory investigations."
Several groups, including Anheuser-Busch, Saia, USA Truck Inc., Heniff Transportation, Alta Equipment Group, Proterra Inc., Covenant Logistics Group, Inc., Corcentric Fleet Funding Solutions, Total Transportation Services Inc., PGT Trucking and more are continuing or have started to work with Nikola.
Earlier this month, Colorado released a 24-page plan to build the market for zero emission trucks, titled the Colorado Clean Truck Strategy. The plan would reduce emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by at least 45% by 2050, CDOT said. Those types of vehicles are responsible for 22% of on-road transportation greenhouse gas emissions, CDOT said, though they only make up less than 10% of all vehicles on the road. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles include not only semi trucks, but school buses, snow plows, delivery vans and more.
Every month, CDOT, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, and the Colorado Energy Office will host a group of stakeholders to discuss development of the strategy. Those meetings are open to the public, and the upcoming ones are scheduled for March 30 at 6 p.m. and March 31 at 2 p.m.
“This (Colorado Clean Truck) Strategy will reduce air pollution in our most vulnerable and polluted corridors across the state and help us achieve our climate goals," said Colorado Energy Office Director Will Toor. "The strategy includes ambitious plans to transition to zero-emissions electric and hydrogen trucks and buses. It’s great to see the Nikola Tre here today as a real world example of an electric heavy-duty truck.”
Kay Kelly, chief of innovative mobility at CDOT, said it's exciting to see these kinds of products on the market.
“The growing number of zero-emissions offerings in the medium and heavy-duty truck market are giving Colorado fleets more opportunity than ever before to choose clean, quiet trucks with lower operation and maintenance costs," Kelly said. "Colorado’s comprehensive Clean Truck Strategy will further develop the supportive ecosystem necessary for fleets to be successful in deploying these compelling new products.”