Parked on the Port of Stockton grounds Thursday were two black and white Nikola zero emission semi-trucks that were being shown to truck driver fleets. 

Nikola Motor is a truck original equipment manufacturer and energy company that focuses on making one hundred percent zero emission semi-trucks while also making hydrogen energy, according to Damon Owens, head of truck marketing at Nikola motors. 

One of the trucks shown was a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that had a range of 500 miles and the other was a battery electric vehicle that had nine battery packs that delivered 733 kilowatt hours of battery capacity with a 330-mile range. 

Both were class eight trucks and carried the same electric motor. 

“Our battery electric truck as I mentioned is in production and ready for delivery now,” said Owens. “Our fuel cell truck will be available for delivery at a later part of this year… it goes into production in the later part of this year.”

Owens said each of the trucks had regenerative braking which brings power back into the batteries as the truck is slowing down.

Dave Dein, co-founder of Next Generation in Trucking Association and the truck driving program coordinator and instructor at the Patterson High School Supply Chain and Logistics Training Center, test drove the battery electric truck in hopes of seeing what new technology would be coming to the truck industry. 

Damon Owens, head of truck marketing at Nikola Motors, speaks with truck company owners about the company’s new class 8 electric trucks near Stockton Port in Stockton, Calif., on March 23, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

The Next Generation in Trucking Association is a nonprofit business trade association whose goal is to help educate young people on the trucking industry, according to Dein.

After riding the truck Dein said it had excellent turning radius and excellent visibility which can be a concern for drivers when driving a truck with blind spots.

“It’s very comfortable, it’s very quiet…love it,” said Dein. “It’s really designed for the driver.”

Albert Nunes, owner of AC trucking company in Manteca, said he came to see the trucks because he has been looking into purchasing electric trucks, given California’s mandate to phase out diesel trucks as a part of the state’s attempt to switch over to 100 percent zero-emission vehicles. 

Under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-79-20, “the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is mandated to develop and propose strategies to achieve 100 percent zero-emissions from medium and heavy-duty on-road vehicles in the State by 2045 where feasible and by 2035 from drayage trucks.”

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  1. We have this strong push to force all vehicles to be battery electric by 2045 and I am concerned about it. If you read about all the issues that the transit agencies are seeing from Proterra, New Flyer, BYD and Nova, the issues are catastrophic and expensive. From explosions of the on-board batteries to pantograph chargers not giving proper charging to the buses, and the expense of adding over night charging stations at the garages. Also if we have rolling brown outs these vehicles cannot charge, which essentially shuts down the transit agency.

    Then you have the issue that both bus operators and maintenance workers have noticed. HVACs zap 30-40 % of the on board battery. Battery Electric Buses do not work well in inclement weather from heavy rains to snow, to high heat.

    I think the Hybrid option is still the best option for bus and truck fleets. It relies on both a battery and a refined diesel. At least in buses, they have proven to be reliable in all weather situations, and maintenance costs were similar to their all diesel counterparts.

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