Nikola Motor Company tests SAF-Holland FWAL-E fifth wheel on its hydrogen-powered truck prototypes

The FWAL-E is designed for imposed loads of up to 20 tons and is available in three heights: 167, 197 and 219 mm

Fifth wheel, Saf-holland, Nikola, Hydrogen trucks


US start-up Nikola Motor Company has opted for the SAF-Holland FWAL-E fifth wheel for its hydrogen-powered trucks for the North American market. The aluminium component has been installed on the prototypes of Nikola Motor’s hydrogen-powered trucks, the Nikola One and Nikola Two.

The FWAL-E is designed for imposed loads of up to 20 tons and is available in three heights: 167, 197 and 219 mm. According to SAF-Holland, the forged aluminium fifth wheel is up to 55 kg lighter than other couplings. An optional ‘weightsaver’ mounting plate reduces the weight by another 35 kg.

The FWAL-E uses the ‘NoLube’ technology which eliminates the need for fifth wheel lubrication, including the lock, because the forged and hardened coupler jaw is protected with an advanced surface coating alloy for wear resistance. Replaceable lube plate inserts are made with ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyethylene moulded to a perforated steel reinforcement plate. This design makes the lube plates highly resistant to peeling and damage. The low-friction lube plates fit into cast recesses of the top plate and are secured by studs and lock nuts.

The Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell electric sleeper semi-truck utilizes a fully electric drivetrain powered by high-density lithium batteries. Energy will be supplied on-the-go by a hydrogen fuel cell giving the Nikola One a range of 800 - 1,200 km while delivering over 1,000 HP. The Nikola Two is a fully-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric day cab class 8 semi-truck developed for long range driving. The company is also developing the hydrogen-powered Nikola Tre for European markets. The truck has 500 to 1,000 HP, 6x4 or 6x2 configurations and a range of 500 to 1,200 km depending on options.  The Tre fits within the current size and length restrictions for Europe and is likely to be launched in 2022.

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