Ryder inks deal to provide sales, maintenance for Nikola One tractor

Nikola One utilizes a fully electric drivetrain powered by high-density lithium batteries, with energy supplied on-the-go by a hydrogen fuel cell.Nikola One utilizes a fully electric drivetrain powered by high-density lithium batteries, with energy supplied on-the-go by a hydrogen fuel cell.

Ryder System, Inc., will serve as the exclusive distribution and maintenance provider for Nikola Motor Company (NMC), unlocking Ryder’s North American network of more than 800 service locations to lessors and owners of the Nikola One tractor.

Ryder will provide sales, service and warranty coverage for the company as NMC looks to build out a support network for its hydrogen fuel cell, electric-drive truck.

“I think it’s the same playbook we ran when we introduced natural gas into our fleet six years ago,” says Scott Perry, Ryder’s chief technology and procurement officer. Perry says Ryder now has more than 6,00o employees trained in natural gas maintenance and boasts the single-largest NatGas service network in North America.

Currently, pre-orders for Nikola One tractors are submitted via NMC’s website. However, that will transition in the near future to a sales model where orders will filter through Ryder, who will work as an extension of NMC.

“We will be working with fleets on the specifications they require,” Perry says, “and those orders will be flowing through our network. Ryder sales staff will represent Nikola and distribute those vehicles from Ryder facilities.”

Routine maintenance services are part of NMC’s truck lease/purchase strategy, which in return for a flexible monthly amount includes a lease payment, unlimited miles, warranty, maintenance and fuel.

Nikola’s inclusive lease/purchase, according to Frost & Sullivan Mobility Industry Analyst Marshall Martin, is expected to offer an annual savings of more than $21,000 versus an average Class 8 diesel truck.

“For no additional cost, a new Nikola One truck could be traded every seven years or [one million] miles,” he adds. “This business model and value proposition is set to drive growth in the market and enable Nikola Motor to gain significant future market share.”

However, Martin adds rival and more established trucking OEMs already have plans in place for this segment and could quickly compete on an equal footing in the future with NMC.

“Nikola Motor is expected to pioneer the penetration of electric-hybrid trucks in the heavy-duty, long-haul segment, taking on big players such as Daimler and Volvo,” he adds.

Pre-order density for Nikola One and available hydrogen fueling stations nearby will dictate which areas Ryder will train its early focuses on building out its support network.

Perry says the company also plans to add units to its fleet.

“We’ve used our rental fleet to deploy new technology many times over the years and I don’t see this any different,” he says. [Truck rental] is sort of like a long term ride and drive for [customers] … and they can dispel any concerns they may have around performance without the risk of taking on equipment.”

“And I can certainly see the opportunity for lease customers to use the product.”