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The Utility Task Vehicle (UTV), also known as a side-by-side, offers a number of advantages for survivalists — it's nimble enough to overcome rough terrain, small enough to fit down narrow paths, offers seating for two or more people, and can carry a large payload of gear. We addressed many of these advantages, as well as some UTV-specific driving techniques, in our recent article “Off-Grid Driver's Ed: Learning to Drive a UTV”.
Traditional off-road UTVs are usually powered by a small gas motor connected to a transmission, transfer case, and front and rear differentials to send power to all four wheels. This is a tried-and-true formula, but we're always interested to see new designs that could provide some additional improvements. With the recent growth in the electric car and truck market, it's no surprise to see some of this tech make its way into the UTV world.
Nikola Corporation, named as a nod to famous electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla, has developed a new electric off-road UTV known as the Nikola NZT. The NZT is 100% electric-powered, with a low-mounted lithium-ion battery pack and four direct-drive electric motors (one at each wheel). Nikola says this setup can produce up to 590hp and 722 ft/lbs of torque. Unlike a gas-powered engine, the electric motors produce peak torque immediately off the line, so they're capable of propelling the NZT from 0 to 60mph in 3.5 seconds.
The Nikola NZT offers a claimed range of 90 to 150 miles under “hardcore riding conditions”. Nikola says it can be recharged in 3 hours with the company's proprietary 400V charger, 8 hours with a 240V charger, or 18 hours with a standard 110V wall outlet charger. An optional 4 kW solar charger will be available in the future for off-grid charging.
Although the NZT is designed for off-road use, you may be able to use it on public roads depending on your state's laws. It will include mirrors, fenders, turn-signals, and other commonly-required features. It also comes with a slew of helpful off-road features, such as 4,500-pound-capacity front and rear winches, electronic power steering, knobbly kevlar-reinforced 33-inch tires, Method Racing beadlock wheels, and 3″ FOX Racing internal bypass shocks.
Most images we've seen of the Nikola NZT are 3D-rendered mockups of the final bodywork, and the video above shows what appears to be an unfinished development mule, but the platform has us interested.
The NZT is currently available for no-cost pre-purchase reservations, and the company says it will “begin delivering the UTVs in the first quarter of 2019”. The final production vehicles will start at $28,900, and upgraded models can reach $45,900 before adding options or accessories. For more information, go to NikolaMotor.com.