How Nikola’s Badger Truck Is Gaining on the Tesla Cybertruck

With the Nikola and Tesla companies both named after the same inventor and electrical engineer, it might be expected that they’d both develop electric pickup trucks. The Tesla Cybertruck had a splashy launch last fall, and the Nikola Badger was just recently announced. Here’s a look at both.

The Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck on November 21, 2019, and its appearance turned out to be unconventional and controversial, with plenty of people mocking it on social media. It’s designed to have an angular stainless-steel body that’s dent-proof. The windows were intended to be bulletproof and made from Tesla armor glass, but a demo at the launch easily cracked a window. The truck’s tailgate has a pull-out panel to create a ramp into the bed. And, for an extra $7,000, the truck can come with what the company calls “full self-driving.”

The Cybertruck has three different models, each with a different number of motors. The base model with one motor will have rear-wheel drive and be able to tow 7,500+ pounds. The two-motor model will have all-wheel drive and be able to tow 10,000 pounds. And, the three-motor model will have all-wheel drive and be able to tow 14,000 pounds. This model will also be able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and drive more than 500 miles before its next charge.

Tesla’s current Raven powertrain is estimated to have 690 hp and generate 824 lb-ft of torque, though Tesla doesn’t disclose this information. Once upgraded to the Plaid powertrain design, the truck is expected to have around 800 hp and produce 1,000 lb-ft of torque combined. The Tesla Cybertruck will be in production in late 2021 for the dual- and tri-motor models and in late 2022 for the single-motor model.

The Nikola Badger truck

Nikola, which has previously launched electric semi-trucks, announced the new Badger pickup truck earlier in February. CNET describes the Badger’s design as being a bit like the Toyota Tacoma from the side just with more lights and angles.

The Nikola Badger will include both an electric battery and a hydrogen fuel cell system with up to 906 hp and the ability to generate up to 980 lb-ft of torque. Nikola says the truck will go from 0 to 60 in 2.9 seconds when it has assistance from a supercapacitor-based launch system. It’s expected to be able to tow about 8,000 pounds. There will also be an option that runs only on an electric battery.

It should have up to 600 miles of range for the battery and fuel cell version, with 300 miles for the battery-only version. Since there aren’t currently many hydrogen refueling stations, Nikola plans to build 700 new stations. The Badger will make its first appearance at the Nikola World 2020 event later this year, possibly in September.

The differences between the Tesla Cybertruck and the Nikola Badger

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk unveils the all-electric battery-powered Tesla's Cybertruck at Tesla Design Center
The Tesla Cybertruck | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images
  • Appearance: There’s a big difference between the futuristic appearance of the Tesla Cybertruck and the more conventional appearance of the Nikola Badger. They may each appeal to different audiences.
  • Powertrains: The Cybertruck uses one, two, or three motors, depending on the model. The Badger uses a more complex battery and fuel cell system.
  • Performance: While the Badger is expected to have more horsepower, the Cybertruck is thought to produce more torque. The Badger will also travel farther before needing to be recharged or refueled.
  • Hype: While Tesla has CEO Elon Musk to help create hype for its vehicles, Nikola has announced a partnership to promote the Badger. Dave “Heavy D” Sparks, of the Diesel Brothers TV show, will help to build and test the Badger truck.

There are a number of differences between these two electric pickup trucks, ranging from how they look to what they’re able to do. The popularity of both is only expected to grow, so it remains to be seen how much the new Badger will gain on the Tesla Cybertruck’s popularity.