In February of 2016, 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 who 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 Company. As an entrepreneur and leader, Trevor has an unmatched passion and work ethic to create change.”
On Dec. 1, Nikola Motor Company unveiled its highly anticipated Nikola One semi-truck. The Nikola One's hydrogen electric powered semi-truck will have a range of 800 to 1,200 mi. (1,287 km to 1,931 km) and achieve approximately 15 mpg under full load, all with zero tailpipe emissions. This performance surpasses all government mandates in place for the next 10 years, including the EPA's recently announced stringent Phase 2 greenhouse gas standards.
“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.
Thompson Machinery also will distribute Nikola Motor Company's Power Sport product called the Nikola Zero — an all-electric side-by-side off road vehicle. The Nikola Zero has more than 500 horsepower and 476 ft. lbs. of torque. The Nikola Zero is anticipated to hit Thompson Machinery's show rooms in December of 2017.
“We are most excited to have the opportunity to offer our customers innovative product lines which have the potential to be a real game changer for their industry,” said De Thompson V. “There are no guarantees in life, but we believe Trevor is in a great position to succeed, and we want a front row seat to watch him execute his plan.”
Steve Lainhart, vice presidnt of energy and transportation of 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 Company.”
The Nikola One truck also is expected to attract new drivers who are interested in using its 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 has a culture that pushes innovation. The company also 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. CEG
For more information, visit http://thompsonmachinery.com.