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Nikola Motor says it can fit 125 kWh battery pack in a Tesla Model S for potentially 400 miles range

When Tesla announced its 100 kWh battery pack earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk highlighted the complexity in fitting so much energy capacity in the Model S and X. He described the energy density as putting 11 pounds in a 10-pound bag. In order to make it possible, CTO JB Straubel said that his engineering team had to reinvent the cooling architecture.

Now Nikola Motor, an electric vehicle startup best known for like Tesla using the name of the famed physicist and inventor, says it can beat Tesla at its own game and fit a 125 kWh battery pack in a Tesla Model S.

Back in Septemeber, Nikola Motor unveiled its electric UTV called the Nikola Zero. At the time, we expressed some skepticism about the company’s ability to fit a 72 kWh battery pack in a UTV, despite being quite large for a UTV.

But now the company is taking it a step further and announced today that the Nikola Zero will have a “107 kWh upgradeable battery pack”.

Trevor Milton, Nikola’s CEO, says that his company achieved that through “major advances in storage and cooling”:

“Our battery engineers have made major advances in storage and cooling. We believe our lithium battery packs, which should be available next year, are more energy dense and weigh less than any vehicle production pack in the world. To give you an idea, we believe our pack could propel a BMW i3 over 400 miles on a single charge and still fit within the i3 chassis. Our new design should also allow us to fit approximately 125 kWh or more in the Tesla Model S battery envelope.”

I am still skeptical, especially after the latest developments with the company’s flagship product, the battery/hydrogen hybrid truck: Nikola One (pictured above) and the company’s reaction after Tesla announced its own electric truck, ‘Tesla Semi’. It’s not doing a lot for the young startup’s credibility, but I’d like to be proven wrong since it would be a significant advance in energy storage.

The company has been teasing its battery pack tech on Twitter:

Of course, energy density is not the only factor to take into account. Cost, power, durability are also important aspects and Nikola Motor didn’t address those in its release today.

Milton says that his new battery pack technology will be offered for sale to other OEMs in 2017. The company will unveil it, as well as the UTV and truck, at an event scheduled for December 1, 2016.

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