Utah-based startup receives 7k orders for hybrid semi

Nikola is named after engineer Nikola Tesla.

An ambitious Utah-based startup called Nikola Motor Company has announced plans to build the world's first series-produced eco-friendly semi truck.

Still at the prototype stage, the truck is known simply as the Nikola One. A batch of computer-generated sketches show that the One boasts typical semi truck proportions but it stands out thanks to a surprisingly aerodynamic design. Notably, it features a large wrap-around windshield and thin A-pillars that give the driver an unobstructed view of the road ahead.

Power for the One comes from a hybrid drivetrain made up of electric motors that spin all six wheels, lithium-ion batteries, and an on-board turbine. The motors are designed to power the truck on their own until the battery is depleted, and the turbine automatically kicks in to produce electricity when it's needed. The turbine primarily runs on compressed natural gas, but Nikola points out that it can burn gasoline or diesel because it's fuel-agnostic.

The drivetrain generates 2,000 horsepower and an impressive 3,700 pound-feet of torque. That's enough grunt to send the One from zero to 60 mph in just 30 seconds when it's fully loaded. To put that figure into perspective, a regular diesel-powered truck performs the same task in approximately a minute.

Of course, the drivetrain, the design, and the specs are purely hypothetical at this point. The Nikola One is merely a concept, and a fully functional prototype hasn't been built -- or at least hasn't been publicly revealed -- as of this writing. Still, that's not stopping Nikola (a firm named after engineer Nikola Tesla) from accepting refundable $1,500 deposits from interested buyers.

At least 7,000 owner-operators and fleet buyers found the Nikola One convincing enough to put down a deposit, according to the company's official Twitter page. In other words, the company raised over $10 million in cash in less than a month. We'll find out if Nikola can walk the walk later this year when it introduces a working prototype.

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