Nikola Corp., experiencing a rare week of positive news, said Wednesday it has 202 orders for hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), a milestone unmatched in the nascent field for the zero-emission trucks.

The order bank covers bookings by 18 end users, some of which are trying out the trucks in demonstration programs. Most of the agreements are direct deals between fleets and Nikola dealers. Series production is underway at Nikola’s plant in Coolidge, Arizona. Deliveries are expected to begin before the end of the year.

“These sales orders reflect momentum in the industry, with businesses increasingly prioritizing zero-emissions alternatives to fulfill their environmental, social, and governance goals and responding to the incentives available,” CEO Michael Lohscheller said in a news release.

Nikola claims a driving range of up to 500 miles. A fill-up is estimated at 20 minutes compared to much longer times to recharge battery-powered electric trucks. 

A week of positives — so far

Nikola’s positive momentum, including an order for three FCEVs from J.B. Hunt Transport on Monday, won’t likely be reflected in Nikola’s second-quarter earnings report Friday. But there could be an upside surprise in the startup’s cash on hand because it sold:

Its 50% stake in a European manufacturing joint venture with Iveco for $35 million and the return of 20 million shares of Nikola stock.

A hydrogen hub in Buckeye, Arizona, for $24 million to partner Fortescue Metals Group.

Four hundred acres of Arizona desert where its plant is located. It is leasing back the plant site from the buyer.

Nikola also cut expenses by laying off 270 employees in June. It likely will book costs associated with the separations.

In addition to the Hunt order, the company announced $16.3 million in grants for hydrogen stations. The Hunt order included 10 battery-electric Tres from inventory. Nikola’s stock price (NASDAQ: NKLA) rose above $3 a share on Tuesday for the first time since October.

Booking revenue is key to Nikola’s future. Incentives help.

The key to Nikola’s future — more than the ability to sell more stock, which will become official with the passage of a shareholder proposal on Thursday — is to book revenue. At an estimated cost of nearly $750,000 each, the fuel cell trucks could put Nikola on a path to doing just that.

The 202 orders is a far cry from the 14,000 reservations Nikola once claimed it held for fuel cell trucks.

Nikola is making good on hydrogen fueling stations prospects with the help of more than $58 million in grants from the state of California. Infrastructure startup Voltera Inc. has committed up to $1 billion for 50 hydrogen stations open to all hydrogen trucks under Nikola’s Hyla brand.

California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) provides $240,000 to $288,000 per vehicle. Customers also are eligible for a $40,000 clean commercial vehicle Inflation Reduction Act tax credit from the federal government.

Other state and Canadian incentives include:

The New Jersey Zero-Emission Incentive Program (NJ-ZIP) voucher pilot for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which provides a $175,000 base voucher per Class 8 zero-emissions vehicle. Additional percentage bonuses are available for small business applicants and other qualifiers.

Canada’s Incentives for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles (iMHZEV) Program. The iMHZEV program offers Canadian for-profit and nonprofit organizations in all provinces, territories and municipalities up to CA$200,000 ($150,000) in incentives toward the purchase or lease of the Nikola hydrogen fuel cell electric truck and up to CA$150,000 ($112,000) toward the purchase or lease of Nikola’s battery-electric truck.

The Clean BC Go Electric Rebates in British Columbia, which offers CA$150,000 incentives toward the purchase or lease of either battery or fuel cell trucks. It is stackable with the iMHZEV federal incentive.

Related articles:

Nikola gets an electric truck order from J.B. Hunt

Nikola cuts 270 jobs as cash to survive runs low

Delaware rule change clears Nikola to increase share count

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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