We are preparing dashboards for manufacturer of trucks using electricity and hydrogen. Interior parts are currently going through testing phase and production preparation. What parts for these “trucks” of the future we are going to supply? What have we improved during testing so far? And when we are going to start the series production?

Dashboards for Nikola Tre

In Promens we will be producing assemblies for the dashboard of the trucks with battery and hydrogen drive. The BEV (battery electric vehicle) version will be put into operation as first, Nikola Tre using hydrogen drive will come down from production lines immediately after.

When will we meet Nikola Tre on European roads? From the second half of 2021. | Photo: Nikola Motor Company

The influence of modern technologies on driver’s environment

Our R&D and dashboard production are not affected by new battery and hydrogen variants. On the contrary what had to be respected, was the significant expansion of modern infotainment in the form of a central 17” touch screen.

We will be producing the main body of the dashboard including the visible “soft touch” lamination in Zlín. | Photo: Nikola Motor Company

On this display driver sees and controls most of the truck’s functions including navigation. For good visibility of the display it is important to correct inclination and angle of the display to height of driver’s head.

One dashboard, 4 sets

The “dashboard” assembly consists of four assembly units:

1 / Main body

The plastic supporting structure is almost invisible. Only in one part of the central tunnel it is “on the surface” in the lower part and therefore it is partially painted.

For Nikola Tre we also secure installation of the main body with reinforcements and other components.

Digital cockpit of Nikola Tre driver. | Original photo: Nikola Motor Company

2 / Top Desh

This assembly unit consists of two components of load-bearing reinforcement, which is followed by gluing of two plastic moldings and visual lamination of soft touch leatherette.
This part is also partially painted.

3 / Defroster Vent

This part follows the Top Desh. Due to inclination of the dashboard towards the front window, it is visible from rather outside than from inside. Defroster vent is completely painted.
This unit consists of two glued plastic components.

4 / Drawer

The fourth product is drawer, which is cover of opening at the passenger seat.

We designed a different production technology – simpler and cheaper

The original parts, designed for conventional injection molding, have been modified to Reaction injection molding (RIM) with polyurethane injection (PU-RIM). The advantage of this new production process is absence of high-pressure injection tools.

“High-pressure injection tools are very expensive for such large parts and their economic advantage begins with production of high series.
The advantage of the RIM technology production stays with significantly cheaper prototype and serial tools – just because of use of aluminum for tools, which is completely sufficient considering smaller pressures of the RIM technology.”

Zdeněk Rajch, Sales Manager Promens Zlín

The dashboards of the modern Nikola Tre trucks using batteries and hydrogen will be manufactured at Promens Zlín. | Photo: Nikola Motor Company

Development since April 2020

We consulted the design, which had been prepared for Nikola by EDAG, in terms of production technology and possible optimizations.

The R&D process including prototyping was taking place since spring of the last year and the test series enabled further optimization of the production.

The development itself lasted about 1 year in two stages. During the first phase – the so-called ALFA prototypes – the development in 3D was processed. Some problematic parts were printed using a 3D printer to verify the proposed solution.

“The new 3D printer has proven itself as very useful for the internal development. Especially regarding adhesives and measuring jigs it significantly contributed to accuracy and quality of the assembled prototypes.”

Jiří Horák, R&D Designer Promens Zlín

For BETA prototyping we designed and in cooperation with the CI – Esse company also constructed molds for the individual parts. The molds were made of aluminum and epoxy resin.

Regarding the aluminum molds we counted – of course after additional modifications – with their later use for series production (LID1 / 2, reinforcements for Main Body and Defroster Vent).

The epoxy molds were used only during the prototype phase of the project and later they were replaced by the aluminum molds. The first molded part for the main body in the Beta phase arrived at Promens in December 2020.

Thanks to the test series we have found room for improvement. The result of successful development is design changes on the parts – we have replaced the original post-bonded nuts with metal inserts and improved the adhesive jigs.”

Jiří Horák, R&D Designer Promens Zlín

These BETA prototypes were created using so-called “soft” tools where we used epoxy instead of aluminum. This procedure is ideal: the final production material is used but with such molds that last a maximum of 20 production cycles.

We discovered new optimization possibilities in the test series, for example we debugged fragility of the right part of the dashboard. We added ribs for reinforcement. Shape lines and other details have also been modified.”

Zdeněk Rajch, Sales Manager Promens Zlín

In this way we have reduced testing costs again and made it easier to verify functionality and appearance.

When is the serial production going to start in Promens?

The production for the Nikola trucks is fully running at Promens Zlín in the summertime of 2021.

Pack and ship with caution

We will be shipping the finished and partially assembled parts to Madrid, Spain where the entire cabins are assembled. The final assembly of the entire truck takes place in Ulm, Germany.

Nikola Tre production is starting in the second half of this year. | Photo: Nikola Motor Company

Want to know something more about the Nikola truck?

We wrote about this manufacturer in our article Introducing customers # 01: Nikola: