Nikola adds PlusDrive safety system to Class 8 electric trucks

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The Nikola Corporation has selected PlusDrive, a next generation safety system developed by Plus, for the Nikola Tre battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and hydrogen electric vehicle in the USA.

The first factory-installed Nikola Tre BEVs and hydrogen electric vehicles which will incorporate enhanced driver assistance features powered by PlusDrive will be available by the end of 2024.

“The enhanced driver assistance features are yet another differentiator of Nikola’s premium driver experience for our customers,” said Michael Lohscheller, president and CEO, Nikola Corporation. “We are one of the first OEMs to offer 100% electric steering paired with the ZF EBS braking system. This base technology in all our vehicles, combined with Nikola’s own internally developed vehicle controls, over-the-air updates and vehicle security, can enable the integration of these advanced sensors and the realization of the PlusDrive safety system from Plus.”

The PlusDrive solution delivers excellent safety, fuel efficiency and comfort for drivers. The system turns the truck’s conventional driver into a pilot who supervises the system when driving on highways. In addition to lane keeping and automatic emergency brakes, PlusDrive keeps the vehicle centered in the lane, can conduct lane changes and merges, and can also navigate stop/start traffic. Additional driving features are added via over-the-air updates.

Working in partnership with Nikola’s base technology, PlusDrive will be responsible for moderating and predicting the optimal and safest speed. It will also use regenerative braking in traffic and when slowing down. Furthermore, the solution can keep the vehicle in the best place within the lane, while keeping track on other commercial and emergency vehicles.

Once fitted with PlusDrive, Nikola’s Tre BEVs and hydrogen electric vehicles will benefit from excellent incident detection capabilities via the multiple cameras, short-range radar and lidar.

When PlusDrive is not being used, the Nikola vehicles will still be capable of detecting obstacles and traffic in blind spots. Additional traffic, including motorcycles and pedestrians, will continue to be highlighted to provide drivers with their proximity information.

The system will work in all traffic conditions, including at loading docks. It will highlight pedestrians around the vehicle to ensure safety when loading and unloading, and during inspections and charging and fueling. Safe operation during high-power charging and hydrogen fueling will also be supplemented with detection and recording features.

“We are proud to support a zero-emission future and provide the underlying safety system behind Nikola’s enhanced driver assistance features,” said David Liu, CEO and co-founder, Plus. “The proven commercial readiness of our highly automated solution PlusDrive accelerates the deployment for our partners and sets a new bar for safety and sustainability for the trucking industry.”

PGT Trucking and Christenson Transportation have agreed to pilot the initial Nikola PlusDrive-enabled trucks which will become available in late 2023. Furthermore, Nikola will establish an Enhanced Driver Assistance Customer Council to collaborate with fleets and Plus to continuously develop and enhance the system.

“PGT Trucking is committed to advancing the transportation industry through the Future of Flatbed [initiative], strategically partnering with like-minded companies, like Nikola, to implement innovative technology and equipment into our fleet,” said Gregg Troian, president, PGT Trucking. “We will actively participate in the ongoing development of the Nikola PlusDrive-enabled units, using these trucks in real-world applications, improving safety standards and enhancing the lifestyle for our drivers.”

“Christenson Transportation has and continues to invest in the safest technology available on the market to lower our carbon emissions to meet the goals of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Don Christenson, president, Christenson Transportation. “The Nikola PlusDrive-enabled trucks, along with the current Nikola Tre BEV and hydrogen electric vehicle, will play a significant role in helping us achieve this vision and improve work-life balance for our drivers. We are proud to be one of the first customers to pilot these trucks this year and play an active role in the launch of this innovative technology.”

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After spending six years working as a mechanic for various motorsport and high-end performance car companies, Callum joined UKi Media & Events in February 2020 as an assistant editor. In this role he uses his vast practical knowledge and passion for automotive to produce informative news pieces for multiple vehicle-related sectors. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKi Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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