Company:Nikola Corporation

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American hydrogen-electric vehicle designer and manufacturer
Nikola Corporation
Nikola Motor Company (2014–2020) (now name of a subsidiary of Nikola Corporation)
IndustryAutomotive industry
Founded2014; 7 years ago (2014)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
FounderTrevor Milton
Phoenix, Arizona
Key people
Stephen Girsky, Chairman
Mark Russell, CEO
ProductsNikola One, Nikola Two, Nikola Tre, Nikola Badger
OwnerTrevor Milton (20%)
SubsidiariesNikola Motor Company
Nikola Powersports
Nikola Energy Company

Nikola Corporation is an American company that has presented a number of zero-emission vehicle concepts since 2016. The company has stated on several occasions that it intends to take some of its concept vehicles into production in the future. Nikola Corporation is based in Phoenix, Arizona.[1] The company is named after Nikola Tesla but is not related to the inventor.[2]

(As of September 2020), the company is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice over securities fraud allegations.[3][4][5]



Nikola was founded by Trevor Milton[6] in 2014[7] in Salt Lake City, Utah.[8][9]

(As of 2016), the first 5,000 Nikola One hydrogen-powered trucks were slated to be built by Fitzgerald in Byrdstown, Tennessee, which produces "gliders", which are truck vehicle platforms without engines.[10] In March 2019, Nikola acquired a 389-acre parcel in Coolidge, Arizona, for US$23 million, with future state and local tax breaks. Nikola said in 2019 that they expected truck factory construction to start in 2020, truck construction in 2021, and the fabrication of 35–50,000 trucks per year by 2023.[11]

In February 2019, Mark Russell was hired as company president. Russell had most recently been President and CEO of Nikola Corporation's investor, Worthington Industries. [12]

In April 2019, Nikola held the Nikola World event in Scottsdale, Arizona. The two-day midweek event included a public demo day to show off the Nikola Two truck, the Nikola Tre truck, the Nikola NZT UTV, and the Nikola WAV watercraft.[13][14][15]


In March 2020, Nikola announced its plans to merge with VectoIQ Acquisition Corporation (ticker VTIQ),[16][17] a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company run by former General Motors Co. executive Steve Girsky. This resulted in the combined company being listed on the NASDAQ exchange with the NKLA ticker symbol.[18] As part of the merger, founder and CEO Trevor Milton had his title changed from CEO to Executive Chairman and Nikola President Mark Russell became President and CEO. [19] Nikola's stock began trading on June 4, 2020, a day after the merger was completed. By June 9, the shares had more than doubled since they began trading, as investors continued to bet on the growth potential of electric transportation. Nikola executive chairman Trevor Milton tweeted in early June that the company would begin taking reservations for the pickup truck, the Badger, on June 29.[20][needs update]

The company was valued at around $13 billion in early August 2020, compared to its revenue in the first six months of 2020 of $80,000 ($36,000 of which was attributed to installation of solar facilities for CEO Milton).[21]

On September 8, 2020 Nikola and General Motors announced a partnership, by which GM would acquire an 11% stake in Nikola (valued at approximately $2 billion at the time of the announcement). GM would also earn the right to nominate one member to Nikola's board. In return, GM has agreed to use its manufacturing facilities to begin production of the Badger, as well as supply fuel cells and batteries to Nikola globally.[22] Nikola stock jumped by 50% after the announcement.[23]

On September 21, 2020, Milton resigned as Executive Chairman[24] following fraud allegations made in a report released by Hindenburg Research,[25][26] while allegedly maintaining his stake in the company. News of the short researcher's allegations caused the share price of Nikola Corp to drop by 20%.[27][28] Following the resignation, Steve Girsky became Chairman of the Board.[29] Nikola then "issued copyright-takedown notices targeting critics on YouTube who [citing fair use] used clips of the promotional video in which a Nikola One semi-truck was seen rolling down a hill" without a working drive train.[30] The Drive called Nikola's action an "abuse of YouTube's copyright takedown system".[31]

In November 2020, General Motors announced that the proposed deal to take an equity stake in Nikola would no longer occur. A revised deal was proposed, having GM provide Nikola with the promised fuel-cell technology but leaving out the 11% stake in the company, as well as no longer producing the Badger electric pickup truck for the company.[32]

Republic Services stated in December 2020 that the projected partnership announced in August to develop zero-emissions garbage trucks with Nikola, including the production of at least 2,500 to 5,000 trucks into its fleet at the start of 2023, would be terminated. The company has promised to remain committed to incorporating electric trucks into their company. Nikola's shares fell 9.8% after the announcement was released. Analysts call the canceled order a short-term setback, allowing the company to channel more focus towards the core of the business, being the production of semi-trucks designed for long-haul transport.[33]


Nikola has publicly announced a number of zero-emissions vehicle design concepts since 2014 and unveiled a few concept vehicles that the company aims to develop for public sale.

Nikola One

In 2016, the company unveiled a high-level design for a hydrogen-fueled Class 8 truck called the Nikola One, aimed then to be in production in 2020. The Nikola One is supposed to be a conventional sleeper cab with 10 wheels.[34] The Nikola One design includes a 320 kWh EV battery supplying 6 traction electric motors—one for each wheel—with a combined software-limited 1,000 hp (750 kW) and 2,000 lb⋅ft (2,700 N⋅m) of torque[35] – nearly 86,000 lb⋅ft (117,000 N⋅m) after gear reduction – inspired by electric locomotives.[36] This is sufficient for keeping a speed of 65 mph (105 km/h) with a full load of 80,000 pounds (36 tonnes) on a 6% grade.[37] The energy source is 300 kW[10] hydrogen fuel cells[38][39][40] consuming 4.6 kg (10 lb) H2 per 100 km (62 mi) from tanks with 100 kg (220 lb) of hydrogen, giving a range of 1,200 mi (1,900 km). Consumption is equivalent to 15.4 mpg‑US (15.3 l/100 km) of diesel.[37] The truck has regenerative brakes to supplement the traditional disc brakes, decreasing stopping distance and fuel usage.[36] The hydrogen version was unveiled in December 2016 and was expected to be available by 2019.[10][35][41] The company said[when?] that in some markets, compressed natural gas may be used to power an on-board gas turbine generator rather than hydrogen fuel cells.[38]

In May 2018, Nikola Motor Company filed a lawsuit against Tesla, Inc. seeking US$2 billion in damages alleging that the Tesla Semi infringed on six[42] patents that Nikola has been granted on the design of the Nikola One. Tesla responded that the lawsuit is without merit.[43] In September 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board denied Tesla's request to invalidate Nikola's side-door patent.[44][42] As of September 2020, the lawsuit is still ongoing.[45]

In May 2018, Anheuser-Busch placed a provisional[clarification needed] purchase order for up to 800 leases of the hydrogen-powered truck versions, and Nikola claimed then that the trucks would start being delivered in 2020. By 2019, total pre-orders for truck leases encompassing all Class 8 truck models were claimed to be worth 14 billion USD.[46][47]

Nikola Two

The Nikola Two is a semi-tractor truck that is expected to be technically identical to the Nikola One. The only difference is that the Nikola Two does not have a sleeper compartment which the Nikola One will possess.[34] Unlike the Nikola One, a prototype driving under its own power was demonstrated,[15][48][49] including when hauling a cargo of beer for a future customer.[50]

Nikola Tre

In November 2019, the company unveiled the Nikola Tre electric truck concept, a rebadged version of the Iveco S-Way[51] that would be aimed at the European market. The Tre will also be targeted for the Australian and Asian markets.[52] Nikola says the Tre will have 500 to 1,000 horsepower (370 to 750 kW) horsepower and a range of 310 to 750 miles (500 to 1,200 km).[53] CEO Trevor Milton stated that production is set to begin at the same time as the US truck versions, which is 2022–2023.[54]

Nikola NZT (Nikola Zero)

In 2016, a prototype concept, the Nikola NZT, formerly[when?] referred to as the Nikola Zero,[55] was unveiled as a utility task vehicle (UTV) with 72 or 107 kWh battery.[56][10][37] The concept was stated to have 555 hp (414 kW) total, provided by a motor at each wheel, weigh 3,500 lb (1,600 kg), and use the same 14.5 in (370 mm) clearance suspension as the Ford Raptor.[57] Sometime before the end of 2016,[when?] it was spun-off into a powersports product, in the Nikola Powersports division.[58][needs update]

Nikola had at least one drivable prototype of the NZT in 2017 when it took a journalist for a ride-along in a Utah desert to demonstrate the vehicle's capabilities.[57] That was an open-cabin version, lacking doors or a windshield. Nikola advertises a similar vehicle as the "Nikola Reckless".[15] On April 16, 2019, Nikola presented an NZT in Phoenix, Arizona that was outwardly similar to the original one, except it had doors (but still lacked a roof and a windshield). Nikola says it offered rides in this vehicle to the attendees during the event, and published a video claiming to show it.[59] The vehicle was supposed to have 590 horsepower (440 kW), and up to 150 miles (240 km) of range per electric charge.[60] There was also a different, closed-cabin variant, with a windshield and windows, which was intended to be a prototype or mock-up which was shown (not driven) during the event.

The vehicle was cancelled, alongside the rest of the powersports division, in February of 2021.[61]

Nikola Reckless

The Nikola Reckless was a concept vehicle that was projected to be a military grade fully-electric tactical off-highway vehicle. A prototype of the vehicle was displayed in the International Special Operations Forces Industry Exhibition Conference in May 2018.[62]

The vehicle's chassis would be 4×4 although it could switch to two-wheel drive. It would weigh 2,299 pounds (1,043 kg) and would be able to carry up to 1,400 pounds (635 kg). Also, the vehicle would have a 0.50-inch (12.7 mm) machine gun.[62] The vehicle was removed from the website with the cancellation of the powersports division.

Nikola WAV

The Nikola WAV was a concept vehicle unveiled in April 2019 that the company says could be a Nikola Motors' watersports offering. The vehicle was presented alongside the Nikola NZT. The Nikola WAV was expected to have a 12-inch (30 cm) waterproof 4K resolution screen, and cruise control.[63] No firm plans to go into production with the concept waterports vehicle had been announced since early 2019.

The vehicle was cancelled, alongside the entire powersports division, in February 2021.[64]

Nikola Badger

The Badger was a proposed electric pickup truck cancelled in November 2020. With initial specifications announced in February 2020,[65] Nikola planned two variants, the first powered by a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and batteries and second all-electric, without fuel cells. The truck was intended to go to market in 2022 with the assistance of the General Motors Company until GM pulled out of the deal and Nikola canceled the truck on November 29, 2020.[66]

Fraud allegations

Hindenburg Report

On September 10, 2020, short seller firm Hindenburg Research released a report[67] accusing Nikola of being "an intricate fraud" perpetrated largely by Milton. Further verification by Financial Times confirmed the report's claim regarding a showcased Nikola One rolling down a gradual slope with no onboard propulsion and instead by using the force of gravity. The stock fell by 10% that day while General Motors, who had made an agreement days earlier, fell by 4%. By September 12, Nikola stock had fallen by 36%.[68][69][70]

Nikola called these claims "false and misleading" and threatened legal action against Hindenburg.[71] Notably, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has shown interest in the report.[72] In the past, Milton has alleged that those who are short selling Nikola stocks are fans of rival company Tesla and are "anti-Nikola or paid attack accounts".[73] In response to the Hindenburg report, Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, said her company conducted appropriate diligence before its deal with Nikola.[74] Reports on September 14 stated that the Securities and Exchange Commission has started a probe into the fraud allegations[3][4] and on September 15, the Department of Justice began an investigation into Nikola as well.[5]

Following the allegations, BP has backed away from a potential partnership to develop hydrogen refueling stations for Nikola's EV Trucks; Nikola's stock price fell by more than 25% intraday after BP's statement.[75] The partnership was cited as a critical component in Nikola's business plan for its electric vehicle trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Nikola had planned to announce the partnership days after the GM Partnership.[76][77]

Resignation of founder

On September 21, 2020, Trevor Milton announced his resignation.[78] Nikola shares fell by another 35% following his resignation. Stephen Girsky, former vice-chairman of General Motors and Nikola board member, replaced Milton as chairman in a non-executive capacity.[79][80]


See also

  • Cummins Aeos, battery-electric and diesel range extender Class 7 semi truck tractor unit
  • Toyota Project Portal, fuel cell Class 8 truck
  • Hyundai 'Xcient', fuel cell Class 8 truck
  • Tesla, Inc, a company manufacturing electric cars also named after Nikola Tesla
  • Rivian
  • Lordstown Motors


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