Nikola Corporation

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Nikola Corporation
FormerlyNikola Motor Company (2014–2020; now name of a subsidiary of Nikola Corporation)
TypePublic
NasdaqNKLA
ISINUS6541101050
IndustryAutomotive
Founded2014; 7 years ago (2014)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
FounderTrevor Milton
Headquarters,
U.S.
Key people
Stephen Girsky, Chairman
Mark Russell, CEO
ProductsNikola One, Nikola Two, Nikola Tre, Nikola Badger
RevenueDecrease $95,000 (fiscal year ended December 2020)[1]
Decrease –$368 million (fiscal year ended December 2020)[1]
Decrease –$397 million (fiscal year December 2020)[1]
Total assetsIncrease $1.05 billion (fiscal year ended December 2020)[1]
Total equityIncrease $980 million (fiscal year ended December 2020)[1]
OwnerTrevor Milton (20%)
SubsidiariesNikola Motor Company
Nikola Powersports
Nikola Energy Company
Websitenikolamotor.com

Nikola Corporation is an American company that presented a number of zero-emission vehicle concepts during 2016–2020. The company stated on multiple occasions that it intended to take some of its concept vehicles into production in the future, including expansive claims during the time the company prepared to go public. The company reorganized and went public on June 4, 2020.[2] As of July 2021, the reorganized company stated that they intend to deliver the first production Nikola Tre battery-electric trucks later in 2021.[3]

Like the larger Tesla, Inc., the company is named in honor of Nikola Tesla but not related to the inventor.[4] Nikola Corporation is based in Phoenix, Arizona.[5]

In September 2020, the company was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice over securities fraud allegations.[6][7][8] In July 2021, a United States federal grand jury returned an indictment against founder and former CEO Trevor Milton, but not against the company, that charged Milton with three counts of criminal fraud—for "lying about 'nearly all aspects of the business'"—and two counts of securities fraud. Stock shares in Nikola dropped and traded at ~US$12[3] after falling from over $65 in mid-2020, a point at which the company market valuation had exceeded that of the Ford Motor Company.[9]

History[edit]

2014–2019[edit]

Nikola was founded by Trevor Milton[10] in 2014[11] in Salt Lake City, Utah.[12][13]

As of 2016, the first 5,000 Nikola One hydrogen-powered trucks were slated to be built by Fitzgerald Glider Kits in Byrdstown, Tennessee (gliders are truck vehicle platforms without engines).[14] In March 2019, Nikola acquired a 389-acre parcel of land in Coolidge, Arizona, for $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.[15]

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. [16]

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.[17][18][19]

2020[edit]

In March 2020, Nikola announced its plans to merge with VectoIQ Acquisition Corporation (ticker VTIQ),[20][21] a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company run by former General Motors (GM) vice-chairman Steve Girsky. This resulted in the combined company being listed on the NASDAQ exchange with the NKLA ticker symbol.[22] 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.[23] 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. Milton tweeted in early June that the company would begin taking reservations for the pickup truck, the Badger, on June 29.[24][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).[25]

On September 8, 2020 Nikola and GM 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 agreed to use its manufacturing facilities to begin production of the Badger, as well as supply fuel cells and batteries to Nikola globally.[26] Nikola stock jumped by 50% after the announcement.[27]

On September 21, 2020, following fraud allegations made in a report released by short seller Hindenburg Research,[28][29] Milton resigned as Executive Chairman[30]while allegedly maintaining his stake in the company. News of the allegations caused the share price of Nikola Corp to drop by 20%.[31][32] Following the resignation, Steve Girsky became Chairman of the Board.[33] 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 drivetrain.[34] The Drive called Nikola's action an "abuse of YouTube's copyright takedown system".[35]

In November 2020, GM 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.[36]

In December 2020, Republic Services stated that their previously announced partnership with Nikola would be terminated due to the corporate restructuring at Nikola. The two companies had agreed to jointly develop zero-emissions garbage trucks in August 2020, including the production of at least 2,500 to 5,000 trucks for the Republic Services fleet by the start of 2023. 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.[37][needs update]

2021[edit]

In June 2021, Nikola invested $50 million in a new hydrogen factory headed by Wabash Valley Resources to produce fuel for semi-truck fuel stations across the Midwest.[38]

In July 2021, the company announced plans to add five new Class 8 truck dealers in Arizona, Texas, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Delaware, Florida, Maryland and Virginia.[39]

Following the indictment of former CEO Trevor Milton in July 2021, the company stated "We remain committed to our previously announced milestones and timelines and are focused on delivering Nikola Tre battery-electric trucks later this year from the company’s manufacturing facilities."[3]

Concept vehicles[edit]

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[edit]

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.[40] The Nikola One design includes a 320 kWh electric vehicle 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[41] – nearly 86,000 lb⋅ft (117,000 N⋅m) after gear reduction – inspired by electric locomotives.[42] 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.[43] The energy source is 300 kW[14] hydrogen fuel cells[44][45][46] consuming 4.6 kg (10 lb) of hydrogen (H2) per 100 km (62 mi) from tanks with 100 kg (220 lb) of hydrogen, giving a range of 1,200 miles (1,900 km). Consumption is equivalent to 15.4 mpg‑US (15.3 l/100 km) of diesel.[43] The truck has regenerative brakes to supplement the traditional disc brakes, decreasing stopping distance and fuel usage.[42] The hydrogen version was unveiled in December 2016 and was expected to be available by 2019.[14][41][47] 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.[44]

In May 2018, Nikola Motor Company filed a lawsuit against Tesla, Inc. seeking $2 billion in damages alleging that the Tesla Semi infringed on six[48] patents that Nikola has been granted on the design of the Nikola One. Tesla responded that the lawsuit is without merit.[49] In September 2019, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board denied Tesla's request to invalidate Nikola's side-door patent.[50][48] As of September 2020, the lawsuit is still ongoing.[51]

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 Nikola Class 8 truck models were claimed to be worth $14 billion.[52][53]

Nikola Two[edit]

The Nikola Two is a semi-tractor truck concept designed to be technically identical to the Nikola One, except that the Nikola Two does not have a sleeper compartment.[40] Unlike the Nikola One, a prototype driving under its own power was demonstrated in 2019,[19][54] including when hauling a cargo of beer for a future customer.[55]

Nikola Tre[edit]

In November 2018, the company unveiled a Nikola Tre hydrogen-powered semi-truck concept aimed at the European market.[56] The hydrogen ICE Tre was also stated to be targeted for the Australian and Asian markets.[57] Nikola said the Tre concept was to have 500 to 1,000 horsepower (370 to 750 kW) and a range of 310 to 750 miles (500 to 1,200 km).[58] Former CEO Trevor Milton stated in 2018 that production was planned to begin at the same time as the US truck versions, which was then thought to be 2022–2023.[56]

In November 2019, the company unveiled a Nikola Tre electric truck concept (a rebadged version of the Iveco S-Way) that would also be aimed at the European market, just as the original hydrogren Tre had been.[59] In July 2021, the company restated that they intend to deliver the first production Nikola Tre battery electric trucks later in 2021.[3]

Nikola NZT (Nikola Zero)[edit]

In 2016, a prototype concept, the Nikola NZT (briefly originally referred to as the Nikola Zero[60]) was unveiled as a utility task vehicle with a 72 or 107 kWh battery.[61][14][43] The concept was stated to have 555 horsepower (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.[62] By the end of 2016, it was listed as a powersports product, in the Nikola Powersports division.[63]

In 2017 Nikola took a journalist for a ride-along in a prototype of the car in a Utah desert to demonstrate the vehicle's capabilities.[62] That was an open-cabin version, lacking doors or a windshield.[19] On April 16, 2019, Nikola presented an NZT in Phoenix, Arizona, that appeared 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.[64] The vehicle was supposed to have 590 horsepower (440 kW), and up to 150 miles (240 km) of range per electric charge.[65] The vehicle was cancelled, alongside the rest of the powersports division, in February 2021.[66]

Nikola Reckless[edit]

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.[67]

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.[67] The vehicle was removed from the website with the cancellation of the powersports division.

Nikola WAV[edit]

The Nikola WAV was a concept vehicle unveiled in April 2019 as a Nikola Motors watersports offering and presented alongside the Nikola NZT. The Nikola WAV was expected to have a 12-inch (30 cm) waterproof 4K resolution screen, and cruise control.[68] The vehicle was cancelled, alongside the entire powersports division, in February 2021.[69]

Nikola Badger[edit]

The Badger was a proposed electric pickup truck announced in February 2020.[70] 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 GM. In November 2020, GM pulled out of the deal and Nikola canceled the truck.[71]

Fraud allegations[edit]

Hindenburg Report[edit]

On September 10, 2020, short seller firm Hindenburg Research released a report[72] 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 the stock of GM, which had made an agreement with Nikola days earlier, fell by 4%. By September 12, Nikola stock had fallen by 36%.[73][74][75]

Nikola called these claims "false and misleading" and threatened legal action against Hindenburg.[76] The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York showed interest in the report.[77] 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".[78] In response to the release of the Hindenburg report, Mary Barra, CEO of GM, said her company conducted appropriate diligence before its deal with Nikola.[79] Reports on September 14 stated that the Securities and Exchange Commission had started a probe into the fraud allegations[6][7] and on September 15, the Department of Justice began an investigation into Nikola as well.[8]

Following the allegations, BP 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 on September 23 after BP's statement.[80] 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 BP partnership days after the GM partnership.[81][82]

Resignation and indictment of former CEO and founder[edit]

On September 21, 2020, Executive Chairman, founder and former CEO Trevor Milton announced his resignation from Nikola.[83] Nikola shares fell by another 19% to $28 following his resignation.[84] Stephen Girsky replaced Milton as chairman in a non-executive capacity.[85][86]

On July 29, 2021, a United States federal grand jury returned an indictment against Trevor Milton that included three counts of criminal fraud, including "lying about 'nearly all aspects of the business'" and two counts of securities fraud.[3] Milton pled not guilty to the charges and was freed on $100 million bail.[87] Nikola's share price dropped further and traded at $12[3] after falling from near $94 in June 2020, when Nikola had a company valuation in excess of the Ford Motor Company.[9][84]

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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