Anheuser-Busch has a long history of finding creative ways to move beer. It was the first company to use refrigerated rail cars in the 1870s. Much more recently, it shipped 50,000 cases of beer 120 miles using a self-driving semi truck.
Today it announced an order for up to 800 semi trucks powered by hydrogen gas as part of a bid to make its entire fleet of long-haul trucks run on “clean energy.”
The hydrogen trucks are being built by Nikola Motor Company. The name Nikola just happens to be the first name of Nikola Tesla, the same Serbiain-born inventor the Tesla (TSLA) car company is named after.
Last year, Anheuser-Busch placed an order for 40 Tesla plug-in semi trucks.
The two companies weren’t originally competitors, until Tesla unveiled its entry into the semi business in November, 2017. Nikola recently filed suit against Tesla accusing the carmaker of stealing Nikola’s designs. Tesla has publicly denied the charge.
But Anheuser-Busch isn’t staging a contest between the two trucks. Both will manage different parts of the beer’s journey said Ingrid DeRyck, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president for sustainability.
Anheuser-Busch delivers Bud in self-driving truck
The Nikola and Tesla trucks both run on electricity. But instead of storing power in battery packs, the way Tesla’s semis do, the Nikola trucks have tanks of compressed hydrogen gas. The gas is fed into hydrogen fuel cells where it’s combined with oxygen from the air in a process that produces water as well as electricity to power the truck.