Nikola Corp. has entered a 10-year partnership with FirstElement Fuel to provide hydrogen for its push to sell fuel cell electric trucks in California.
FirstElement Fuel (FEF) is the leading hydrogen station operator in the Golden State. It is relatively new to heavy-duty truck refueling. It operates a fast-refueling station in Oakland. Thirty Hyundai Xcient fuel cell trucks participate in a pilot program at the Port of Oakland. The station received funding from the California Energy Commission under the NorCal Zero Project.
Fast-fill lanes for hydrogen-powered trucks
FEF expects to serve 200 hydrogen-powered trucks at an H70 fast-fill lane. Nikola fuel cell trucks could help soak up some of FEF hydrogen once it reaches scale production of the Nikola Tre in Coolidge, Arizona.
“FirstElement Fuel is a recognized leader in hydrogen vehicle fueling in California, and the Nikola team is inspired by the immense possibilities created by this agreement,” Nikola President of Energy Joe Cappello said in a news release.
FEF plans additional stations for truck refueling, which “signifies a powerful synergy between Nikola and FEF,” he said.
Joel Ewanick, FEF founder and executive chairman, said, “We are confident the synergy between our shared expertise and vision will help to reshape the landscape of clean and sustainable transportation, driving towards a future powered by hydrogen.”
Nikola plans several paths to a network of up to 60 stations by 2026. That includes mobile and permanent stations under the HYLA brand. HYLA stations would be open to all makes of fuel cell trucks. Two locations — the FEF station in Oakland and a station in Ontario in California’s Inland Empire — expect to be online by the end of 2023. Nikola plans for several more by mid-2024.
Nikola’s broader strategy involves working with industry-leading partners to ensure a robust hydrogen supply chain, transport logistics, storage solutions and dispensing locations. The company has said it has enough energy offtake to support customer operations through the early months of 2024.
The company plans a series of HYLA hydrogen fueling locations throughout Southern California. Northern California follows to support the recent launch of the Nikola hydrogen fuel cell electric truck.
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