Troubled US truck start up Nikola  has revealed it had more than 200 sales orders for its heavy duty class 8 hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks via its HYLA brand.

Nikola said its hydrogen-powered heavy-duty trucks, with a range of up to 800 km and a refuelling time of just 20 minutes, have generated notable interest across various industries in the USA .

The company says its Coolidge manufacturing facility in Arizona is now running at full capacity and added that deliveries are slated to commence later this year, following the completion of a demonstration program.

Michael Lohscheller, Nikola’s president and CEO, hailed the achievement as a reflection of the industry’s growing appetite for sustainable solutions.

“This remarkable demand for our hydrogen fuel cell electric truck confirms the industry’s trend toward sustainable transportation solutions,” Lohscheller said.

The company has  had its shares of problems over the past few years with it founder and then chair, Trevor Milton being charged and indicted  on fraud charges by the US Securities and

In September 2020, two days after Nikola established ties with General Motors, short seller Hindenburg Research released a report accusing Milton of making false statements over the course of many years and characterised Nikola Motor Company as “an intricate fraud.”  Nikola’s stock fell by eight per cent that day and fell an additional 15 per cent the following day, after Milton failed to deliver his rebuttal as he previously promised Further verification by Bloomberg and the Financial Times confirmed some of the details in the report. Nikola denied the allegations of fraud outlined in the report and said it contained misleading information.

Two days later Milton resigned  as executive chair of Nikola, but remained an unpaid consultant to Nikola until December 2020 and retained 91.6 million shares of Nikola that were worth roughly $US3.1 billion in late September 2020.

In July 2021, a United States federal grand jury returned an indictment against Milton that included three counts of securities fraud and wire fraud and  surrendered to authorities. Milton pled not guilty to the charges and was freed on $US 100 million bail. Milton was charged with an additional wire fraud charge in June 2022 and  four months later the jury found Milton guilty on one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud following a day of deliberation, however he will not be sentenced until next month.

Earlier this year Iveco, which had invested around $US 250 million  in Nikola and established a joint venture to build hydrogen FCEV trucks  in Europe, severed ties with the company, buying back the joint venture plant in Germany and doing a deal to licence its cab over truck designs to Nikola  for use in  the USA.

However Nikola appeared to be powering on with its hydrogen truck plans  in the USA and the company says its success is driven by key factors including the incentives and partnerships, particularly with the California Air Resources Board’s HVIP program.  The California incentives have sped up sales with incentives of between $US240,000 to $US288,000 per truck.

As well as that Canada’s iMHZEV Program has expanded influence with up to $C200,000 incentives for hydrogen trucks and $C150,000 for battery-electric.

However Nikola’s accomplishments have not without challenges.  As well as  the much publicised issues with tis founder as well as the Iveco divorce, its global push towards hydrogen fuel cell technology has also attracted skepticism from industry figures including  Tesla’s Elon Musk, who favours batteries as a more efficient energy storage solution.  Musk’s criticism comes despite the fact that his Tesla organisation has also missed many deadlines for its battery electric heavy duty truck, which has only recently hit the road after three years of delays with  Pepsi Co in the USA, mainly tackling the challenging task of carting boxes of its subsidiary FritoLey’s potato crisps