CNH Industrial to lead Nikola‘s Series D round with US$250m investment

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 4, 2019

CNH Industrial N.V. has announced its intention to enter into a strategic and exclusive heavy-duty truck partnership with Nikola Corporation 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.

Nikola‘s zero-emission heavy-duty trucks, powered by proprietary hydrogen fuel cell and battery technology, will be the first to production. The company‘s disruptive business model foresees an industry first ‘all-in‘ lease rate, which includes vehicle, service, maintenance and fuel costs, providing long-term total cost of ownership certainty at or below diesel costs.

CNH Industrial will take a US$250 million strategic stake in Nikola as the lead Series D investor. Pre-money valuation was set at US$3 billion. Nikola anticipates raising more than US$1 billion in the D round, granting approximately 25% ownership to new investors and business partners, including CNHI.

IVECO and FPT Industrial, the commercial vehicle and powertrain brands of CNH Industrial respectively, will assist in engineering and manufacturing expertise to industrialise Nikola‘s fuel cell and battery electric trucks. The following vehicles will benefit from this partnership: the Nikola ONE, a NAFTA- compliant Class 8 sleeper truck; the Nikola TWO, a NAFTA-compliant Class 8 day-cab truck; and the Nikola TRE, a European compliant cabover heavy-duty truck.

Nikola will contribute technologies for a European joint venture with CNH Industrial that will include class-leading fuel cell expertise, e-axles, inverters, independent suspension, on-board hydrogen fuel storage, over-the-air software update functionality, infotainment, vehicle controls, vehicle-to-station communication protocols, power electronics, and access to a hydrogen fuelling network. 

FPT Industrial and IVECO have been instrumental in the development and expansion of Europe‘s natural gas refuelling network, in addition to successfully introducing new powertrain technology. Following a similar path, Nikola is actively working with partners to develop the required hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in North America and Europe.

Strategic near-term project milestones include the industrialisation of the Nikola TWO fuel cell powered Class 8 truck for the North American market, as well as the integration of IVECO S-Way truck technology into the battery electric powered Nikola TRE cabover model for both the North American and European markets. In the long term, a European joint venture will cover both battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) launched by Q4 2022. Nikola plans to leverage IVECO‘s European sales, service and warranty channels to accelerate access to the European market.

“The increasing focus on the recognition that there needs to be fundamental reductions in automotive emissions is driving our industry to rapidly seek advanced technological solutions. IVECO is now ideally placed to offer customers an even wider range of transport solutions including natural gas, electric and fuel-cell powered vehicles,” said CNH Industrial chief executive officer Hubertus Mühlhäuser. “Nikola‘s choice of IVECO as its strategic partner is testament to our internationally recognised excellence in heavy-duty trucks and alternative powertrain technologies.”

Nikola Corporation chief executive officer Trevor Milton said the time had come to finally provide a zero-emission solution to the heavy-duty truck market.

“While other OEMs believe zero-emission solutions cannot happen in the timeframe regulators have mandated, Nikola, FPT Industrial and IVECO are proving that these timelines are not unreasonable. Nikola has the technology but needs a partner with a European network to achieve it in a timely manner. With CNH Industrial‘s investment and partnership, we can now bring zero-emission trucks to Europe. It is exciting to see IVECO taking the lead in providing zero-emission solutions in Europe through its partnership with Nikola. By bringing CNH Industrial on board, we now have access to manufacturing know-how, purchasing power, validated truck parts, plant engineering and much more. Few will doubt our ability to commercialise a truck now.”

CNH Industrial president commercial and specialty vehicles Gerrit Marx said global climate change, geopolitical conflicts, future availability of fossil fuels and a self-aware circular economy all call for a fundamental change in operations.

“While today LNG delivers significantly lower well-to-wheel emissions, which can be reduced to virtually zero when using biogas, in the medium to long term, fuel cell and BEV technologies will deliver the ultimate goal of zero-emission trucking. With our LNG technology we have proven to be European disruptors, taking the lead in industry transformations including fuel supply and lifecycle ownership.”