In February of this year, Caterpillar announced its departure from the on-highway vocational truck market as part of the company’s ongoing restructuring to align its businesses with existing conditions. Thus, many CAT dealers like Thompson Machinery that had invested heavily in capital assets and had many talented employees to service the on-highway truck market found themselves searching for new ideas to serve their customers.
“It’s amazing what our team can do when presented with a challenge,” said De Thompson V, president and CEO of Thompson Machinery. “Within a few months, our team had identified a new partner in Trevor Milton, the CEO of Nikola Motor Co. As an entrepreneur and leader, Trevor has an unmatched passion and work ethic to create change.”
Last week, Nikola Motor Co. unveiled its highly anticipated Nikola One semi-truck, which is expected to be the most fuel-efficient Class 8 truck ever built. The Nikola One’s hydrogen electric powered semi-truck will have a range of 800 to 1,200 miles and achieve approximately 15 mpg under full load, all with zero tailpipe emissions.
Nikola’s Milton said, “We are excited to announce Thompson Machinery as our only other authorized sales, service and warranty dealer, along with Ryder System, Inc. Given Thompson Machinery’s impeccable reputation in Tennessee and Mississippi, we were happy to have them as an early investor.
“Thompson Machinery has committed a tremendous amount of capital on the infrastructure needed to service Class 8 trucks and we are excited to have a partner that understands the benefits of clean technology and is ready to serve Nikola drivers,” said Milton.
Steve Lainhart, vice president of Energy and Transportation at Thompson Machinery, said, “Even with a change in administration and possible adjustment to EPA’s transportation regulation, we think the growing acceptability and popularity of all electric cars suggest that the market wants cleaner, more environmentally friendly transportation options.
“We believe the on-highway truck industry will follow suit as soon as a truck manufacturer can bring an affordable solution to the heavy-haul market. We feel Nikola is going to provide that solution and remain the innovation leader in this industry, and we are very excited to be a dealer for the Nikola Motor Co.”
The Nikola One truck is also expected to attract new drivers who are interested in using its state-of-the-art technology. Driver recruitment and retention is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Other advantages include exceeding EPA standards, complying with the new brake stopping distance regulations, satisfying fuel economy needs and providing increased horsepower and torque for heavier loads and multiple trailers.
Thompson Machinery recently announced that PHG Energy, a renewable energy company owned by Thompson, installed one of the world’s largest downdraft gasification systems, which is located in Lebanon, Tenn.