Nikola Motor chooses Mahle for thermal management in upcoming fuel cell truck

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 18 Sep 2018


In the development of its fuel cell truck Nikola Two, the Nikola Motor Company has turned to Mahle for its expertise in thermal management. The systems specialist based in Stuttgart/Germany is the development partner and supplier for the truck’s entire cooling and air-conditioning system.

When it comes to electric vehicles, the economical use of heat and cold flows is the basis for power output, cruising range, and service life. In order to address the various thermal requirements, coolant circuits at different temperature levels are required. The primary task of thermal management is to provide optimised media temperatures to meet the demand for the most efficient energy utilisation.

Mahle says the US company Nikola is using its thermal management expertise in the development of the fuel cell truck, Nikola Two. The tractor is designed to achieve a cruising range of 500 to 1,000 miles at a maximum power output of 1,000 hp — with zero local emissions. Its market launch is already planned for 2021. The development partnership between Nikola and Mahle includes both the air-conditioning system for the driver’s cabin and the cooling systems for all drive components.

“With Mahle, we have gained a highly agile partner for the development of our fuel cell truck Nikola Two. Mahle provides a wealth of experience and is an important contributor of our project’s success. Mahle’s holistic system competence and high degree of vertical integration in liquid and thermal management systems were crucial, allowing us to obtain single-source solutions for a drive concept of the future,” says Trevor Milton, founder and CEO of the Nikola Corporation.

Multiple cooling systems are being developed and produced for the fuel cell, the traction motor, the power electronics, and the battery with all relevant system components coming from Mahle. These also include, for example, electric coolant pumps and fans. The air conditioning system for the cabin of the heavy semitrailer tractor is being developed and manufactured by Mahle as well, and also comprises the complete system, including the 800V electric compressor.

“Mahle has continued to advance innovative technologies for fuel cell drives in recent years — the complete thermal management system is a key part of this. We are therefore now in a position to confidently and competently support Nikola’s dynamic development process and time-to-market. We are thrilled to be able to contribute our know-how to such a highly innovative vehicle, which promises new standards in performance, efficiency and operating costs for long haul transportation,” says Arnd Franz, executive vice-president – Sales and Application Engineering on the Management Board of the Mahle Group.