Truck startup and Tesla rival Nikola announces plans for electric pickup: Meet the Nikola Badger

Nathan Bomey USA TODAY Published 2:38 PM EST Feb 10, 2020 Nikola Corp. - the battery- and hydrogen-powered truck company that has positioned itself as a rival to Tesla - on Monday announced plans to make an electric pickup.

The Nikola Badger will have a battery-only range of 300 miles or a range of 600 miles on a battery plus a hydrogen fuel tank. Production will begin in the third quarter of 2021, Nikola spokesperson Colleen Robar noted in an email. No price has been announced.

The Badger joins a growing list of electric pickups promised by an array of established and start-up automakers. The contenders now include the Tesla Cybertruck, General Motors' GMC Hummer, an electric Ford F-150 and a pickup made by Ford-backed startup Rivian. Phoenix-based Nikola has attracted attention for its ambitious expansion plans and bold claims of technological advancements, including a recent announcement that it has achieved a "game-changing" breakthrough in battery technology.

Tesla rival makes big claim: Electric-truck maker Nikola Corp. claims 'game-changing' battery advancements

Would you drive one?: As Tesla preps 'Cybertruck,' electric pickups gain steam The Badger will go zero-to-60-mph in about 2.9 seconds with 906 peak horsepower, and it will be made in partnership with an existing but unidentified automaker, the company said. The startup plans to begin accepting "limited reservations" in 2020.

Tesla and GM have said they plan to make their electric pickups beginning in late 2021, while Rivian has said it plans to make the R1T beginning in late 2020. Ford has not announced a date for the electric F-150 but recently released a video demonstrating a prototype version towing a train.

Truck startup and Tesla rival Nikola announces plans for electric pickup: Meet the Nikola Badger

Nikola CEO Trevor Milton released a statement implying that the company is translating technology from its hydrogen-powered semi-truck, which is still in development, into the pickup. "I have been working on this pickup program for years and believe the market is now ready for something that can handle a full day's worth of work without running out of energy," Milton said. "This electric truck can be used for work, weekend getaways, towing, off-roading or to hit the ski slopes without performance loss.

No other electric pickup can operate in these temperatures and conditions." Milton has said the company has a decade worth of orders lined up for its hydrogen-electric semi-truck, including customers such as Anheuser-Busch and US Xpress, and plans to begin semi-truck production in 2022. Nikola, which bears the first name of electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla, has said it will reveal more details about its battery and pickup plans at a forthcoming summit.

The startup, which also goes by Nikola Motor Company, said it would likely take place in fall 2020.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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