Drive the Nikola Zero UTV,kick up a storm, spend $35,000 for an electric off-roader with tank power

Utah,August17:Dont you love kicking up mud and bombing around off-road but feel guilty spewing all that carbon dioxide, Nikola Powersports has you covered—assuming you’ve got $35,000 to spend on an electric off-roader with more torque than a tank.

 The Utah startup just released the specs on the Nikola Zero, a four-seat UTV (utility task vehicle, or what you may know as a side-by-side) guaranteed to make you grin like a lunatic if you ever drive one. The less crazy version produces 415 horsepower and 3,675 foot-pounds of torque. But most people will probably take leave of their senses and go for the thoroughly crazy version, good for 555 horsepower and 4,900 foot-pounds of torque.

To put that in perspective, that’s more power than a Mustang GT and more torque than an M1 Abrams tank. It looks like a typo or straight-up BS. Nikola insists it’s not. In fact, CEO Trevor Milton claims one Zero could beat five gasoline-burning UTVs in a tug-of-war.

“It’d tear them to pieces,” he says.

Nikola’s engineers designed the Zero for rock crawling, off-roading, and towing farm equipment, so they concentrated on giving this beast low-end grunt. Electric motors provide plenty of that, especially when you use one at each wheel. Milton says a computer monitors each wheel, measuring torque and other parameters 30 times a second and intervening to keep you from flipping over or tearing up the drivetrain. Anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and electric power steering further minimize your odds of doing something stupid.

NIKOLA

And left to your own devices, you would do something stupid. That’s all but guaranteed in a UTV that hits 60 mph in 3.9 seconds—on par with the Aston Martin DB11. The version with the 125-kWh battery (bigger than anything Tesla offers) delivers 200 miles of range. You can also get a 75-kWh or 100-kWh pack, all impressive for a vehicle the size of a golf cart. Milton claims the company used patented techniques to squeeze that much power from battery packs small enough to fit in the Zero. It will happily license the drivetrain technology to other companies who might want to build bigger electric vehicles like pickups.

If this all sounds excessive—and to be clear, it is—it makes a bit more sense when you realize Nikola Motor Company wants to build electric big-rigs and needed a test bed for its tech. Packing motors and controllers and such into a UTV is easier than seeking approval to test this stuff on the road in an 18-wheeler.

Want one? You’ll have to wait until they go on sale in January. Until then, you’ll have to wait to challenge that guy with the Model S to a drag race—or a tug-of-war.

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