Allison testing Nikola electric, fuel cell trucks

By Mike Brezonick12 January 2023

Allison Transmission has partnered with Nikola Corp., the global supplier of zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions, to conduct testing of its Class 8 battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) at Allison’s advanced Vehicle Electrification + Environmental Test (VE+ET) Center. The facility is located at the company’s campus in Indianapolis, Ind.

Nikola truck at Allison VE+ET Testing of Nikola’s battery electric and fuel cell trucks have been conducted at Allison Transmission’s Vehicle Electrification + Environmental Test (VE+ET) Center in Indianapolis, Ind. (Photo: Allison Transmission)

“We’re proud to collaborate with Nikola as they develop innovative, next-generation vehicles designed to reduce emissions and optimize performance,” said David Proctor, general manager of the VE+ET Center. “Our facility has the capabilities to support external customer test and validation programs for vehicles powered by every major propulsion type, which reinforces Allison’s commitment to taking a leadership role in the development of alternative fuel options for the commercial vehicle industry.”

The two companies collaborated to test BEV and FCEV performance through controlled thermal environments and dynamometer road simulations capable of simulating a wide range of duty cycles. The tests also utilized Nikola’s hydrogen refueling equipment along with a constant flow of hydrogen supplied by the facility to allow for uninterrupted test runs.

Evaluation of the vehicles included monitoring battery management and HVAC testing which leveraged solar simulation to replicate extreme temperatures. The VE+ET Center provides several benefits for OEMs including the ability to conduct testing in a safe, controlled, consistent environment which enables secure, dependable, repeatable results. The facility enables simulation of real-world applications and climate conditions which can reduce product development and validation timelines and bring innovative technology and vehicle systems to market faster and more efficiently. In addition, conducting testing in a condensed timeframe that is not dependent on seasonal climate and road conditions results in reduced costs compared to on-road testing.

“Leveraging the capabilities of Allison’s VE+ET Center has been a key enabler for Nikola to accelerate our product development cycle and confidently bring to market our Tre BEV early last year,” said Adam Tarleton, Nikola’s head of Vehicle Validation. “We are looking forward to continued collaboration with Allison on our Tre FCEV product to deliver an industry leading, best-in-class hydrogen FCEV with the performance, quality and reliability the commercial truck segment demands.”

Opened in 2020, the VE+ET Center houses a hot soak chamber, a cold soak chamber, and two chassis dyno-equipped environmental chambers capable of simulating a broad range of duty cycles. Environmental conditions from -54º to 125º F, altitudes up to 18,000 ft., as well as grades and other on-road conditions can be simulated within the facility. A recently added thermal feature simulates solar radiant heat to support HVAC testing.

The two testing chambers can accommodate most commercial on-highway, off-highway and wheeled defense vehicle applications, along with automotive passenger vehicles. Testing is applicable for a wide range of propulsion systems, including conventional powertrains, alternative fuel, electric hybrid, fully electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The 60,000 sq. ft. facility is believed to be the only one of its kind in the Midwest, offering the ability to conduct year-round testing in one centralized location. The facility offers dedicated test cells and suites for customers, which provide the capabilities and collaboration necessary for new product development.

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