ULM, GERMANY — IVECO and FPT Industrial, the commercial vehicle and powertrain brands of CNH Industrial N.V., and Nikola Motor Company will manufacture, through their European joint venture, the Nikola TRE in Ulm, Germany, at the IVECO manufacturing facility.

The heavy-duty truck partnership saw CNH Industrial taking a $250-million stake in Nikola as the lead Series D investor. The partnership was announcement at the CNH Industrial Capital Markets Day in September 2019 was quickly followed in December with the unveiling of the Nikola TRE, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) heavy duty truck, which is the first step towards the fuel-cell electric (FCEV) model.

The site in Ulm is IVECO’s chassis engineering hub, situated at the heart of the Baden-Württemberg region which is striving to become a leading hub for fuel-cell mobility thanks also to its skilled workforce and research labs. The region has committed a substantial investment to fund research and development projects in the area which has a strong automotive industry, with strategic project partnerships, meaning the Ulm facility will benefit from close proximity to key suppliers.

The German Federal Government recently released its draft National Hydrogen Strategy, which has the aim of expanding the pioneering role of companies in hydrogen technologies. In this strategy, it commits a total of €2 billion to fund the hydrogen innovation program, including the development of the necessary distribution infrastructure.

In the first stage of the project, €40 million will be invested by the joint-venture company to upgrade the manufacturing facility, which will focus on final assembly of the vehicle. Start of production is anticipated within the first quarter of 2021, with deliveries of the Nikola TRE beginning in the same year.

The first models to enter production will be the battery-electric 4x2 and 6x2 articulated trucks with modular and scalable batteries with a capacity of up to 720 kWh and an electric powertrain that delivers up to 480 kW of continuous power output.

The Ulm facility will receive module supplies from IVECO’s manufacturing locations in Valladolid and Madrid, Spain, which will enable a rapid ramp up to meet expected customer demand. Fuel-cell electric versions, built on the same platform, will be tested in the European Union-supported H2-Haul program during 2021 for an expected market launch in 2023.

The Nikola TRE currently in development is based on the new IVECO S-WAY platform and integrates Nikola’s truck technology, controls and infotainment. Testing is expected to begin in mid-2020 with prototypes to be showcased at the IAA 2020 commercial vehicle exhibition in Hannover, Germany this September.

“By drawing on our Gold standard World Class Manufacturing site in Madrid, Spain, where the IVECO S-Way is produced, we are able to accelerate final assembly, powertrain integration and high-end customization of the Nikola TRE for a timely market introduction in 2021,” says Gerrit Marx, president commercial and specialty vehicles at CNH Industrial.

This joint venture forms part of a wider partnership established with Nikola to accelerate industry transformation towards emission-neutrality of Class 8 heavy-duty trucks in North America and Europe through the adoption of fuel-cell technology. The primary focus of the collaboration is to leverage each partners’ respective expertise to successfully deploy zero-emission heavy-duty trucks and to disrupt the industry with an entirely new business model.