Experiencing the future of off-road is sometimes very interesting and most of the time we are surprised by the advancements in the technology that is presented to us. But it was when the group at Nikola started their quest to build a completely electric exotic off-road SXS that we had to at least focus for a moment to get the incredible details.
Watching Nikola unveil their latest concept of the NZT, a very futuristic and dreamy looking rig, we couldn’t help but wonder who the end user was going to be. The fully enclosed cab and talks of air conditioning, heat and leading interior accessories from infotainment to comfort is surely a step in the right direction but it will come at an elite price starting at $80K. The super sleek futuristic lines of this machine give it the aurora of an off-road super car. Combine looks with a very popular FOX shock 3.0 suspension and 18-inches of travel you should have no trouble to get that projected 590hp of electricity motivated down the trails in comfort. The solid cab top is removable for those who like the open air or jeep style for a more environmentally immersed experience. The potential torque rating will be lofty in the 775FT pound zone and that should set you back a little in the race inspired vinyl covered 4-point harness equipped bucket seating.
The elevated seats are on a pedestal of sorts inside the prototype car. The doors are light and pretty simple yet were cautiously guarded by Nikola staff as we attempted to see the inside of the NZT. These doors were so simple in fact that the door handle is a cargo strap type material and it reminds us of another off-road SXS that uses a similar door pull. Seems too simple for a futuristic and price heavy vehicle. There is computerization in the cab as one might imagine, with digital high definition screens in the center section as well as on the dash just in front of the driver. We would venture to say this will all get a little make over before it goes into production but with an electric foundation the new age electronic gearheads will most likely lose their minds over the possibilities in here. Understanding that this is a prototype we let our imagination take us to what could be the final product.
When you think of owning one of these insanely powerful completely electric UTV’s, charging is a key element. Quite possibly the keyset of all keys to the survival of the off-road capability of this E-UTV. There are a few options given by the makers of the battery packs for batteries to be recharged but currently none of these are in the wild. Meaning that you will not be able to charge the unit on the trail unless the surge of “remote and or portable” recharge stations that Nikola projects to install at certain ride destinations get finished before you take delivery of your machine. If you are lucky enough to have one close to you or in your favorite riding area, the available battery life ranges, according to last Mays release, were 90 miles, 120 miles and 150 miles.
There are several station type charging methods and one is a 240 or 110 volt station that is a home unit which will recharge in various times ranging from 8hrs to 18hrs. One additional mention was a DC power fast charge that can get you moving in two hours. We would hate to be the one’s running out of battery in the trail in this beast though. It is bound to be a tough pull at an estimated weight between 3500-4500lbs. Not to mention, a weekend of riding can easily get you over the available range even at 150 miles and forgetting to recharge or waiting 18hrs might be a little troublesome. Keep in mind that the Alpha was the second sibling of the Nikola family and changes have already been made for advancement as well as charging capabilities so Nikola could overcome this hurdle with more time. Let’s hope the awaiting public and those who Nikola has set forth agreements to buy will be patient enough to see it through.
The one solid use that we took away from this Nikola World event was the use of the Nikola Reckless by military forces. Having a silent and powerful, armed and equipped machine to keep troops safe in the dead of night or even day is crucial and being autonomous is also a plus. A single soldier can pilot the Nikola Reckless via a remote controller the size of a gaming controller and that is a fairly impressive feat that can save lives. Now that is something to get behind.
During our NZT tour at West World in Scottsdale Arizona and just like last year at Sand Sports Show, no one is allowed to drive the Nikola NZT just yet. We found ourselves watching a varying minute and a half ride in the passenger seat which would be all we had been offered in the exact same original prototype Alpha machines, as Nikola calls them. Jordan Darling, the VP of Powersports at Nikola, stated that the current Alpha SXS offers 400-450hp with a potential range of 150 miles and much more power available. It is evident that the power is there in literal form and the silence is deafening as Trevor Milton would be excited to hear.
In conclusion, what we experienced at Nikola World 2019 was what Nikola says, is to come. If they have anything to do with it. Nikola is building their UTV program on the prospect that one day there will be no emissions on the trails we ride. They have spent the time and effort to make a world of silence a possibility, but we still have questions about just when or how it will come about. There are many questions that we have regarding the future of our sport and many include the possibility of alternate fuel source’s. Protecting the trail systems as well as the environment in which we ride is crucial for long term sustainability of the off-road sport. We must protect the right to ride off-road by doing our part to reduce emissions and taking action when others neglect their responsibility to help keep the trails clean. We completely understand the purpose and direction that this company has anchored their mission upon and do support a new way of experiencing the trails we love. Is this the correct direction? It’s anybody’s guess but it is a different way of looking at it.
If you have ever dreamt of an all-electric world for off-road then the group at Nikola is welcoming contributions or advanced reservations for the new NZT or Net Zero Toll adventure machine. While the technology still needs a little more growth to make all of the components and environment’s mesh completely and seamlessly, there is a possibility, at least in the eyes of those committed to Trevor Milton’s dream, that it will not be long. The Nikola vehicles we have currently seen, touched and ridden passenger in are all just “proof of Concept” machines with none of the finalized details or features ready for general public. The team at Nikola has their eyes set on the 2021 year for the release of this electrifyingly silent trail rig so just like you, we will wait for the next word from Nikola.