Nikola promises electric semi prototypes this year as GM delays potential partnership

The Tre’s really just an Iveco S-Way, but it packs an in-house Nikola powertrain.


Nikola

There’s no doubt Nikola is playing defense. The company continues to reel from the aftermath of a detailed report from a financial forensics firm that called the electric-hydrogen truck startup an “intricate fraud.” Nikola on Wednesday attempted to calm some fears as it laid out a roadmap for its near-term accomplishments. Meanwhile, General Motors, its potential partner, has reportedly pushed back a date to officially create a tie-up between the two.

Among the upcoming plans, Nikola promised it will finish the first Tre battery-electric semi prototypes in the coming weeks sometime in the fourth quarter of this year. That shouldn’t be too much of a hassle since the Tre is essentially a rebadged Iveco S-Way with the startup’s own battery-electric powertrain underneath. This month’s bombshell report accused the firm of lacking any sort of proprietary technology, but with the Tre, Nikola could show it does in fact have something of worth. Iveco’s parent company, CNH Industrial, poured a massive investment into Nikola in 2019 and the two plan to work together to tackle the European semi market.

We don’t know what the prototypes will pack, but Nikola promised a 720 kilowatt-hour battery pack, 644 horsepower and 1,327 pound-feet of torque. This is supposed to be an in-house powertrain, but you’ll excuse us if we remain skeptical. Part of the deal with GM is for the legacy automaker to supply its Ultium battery technology and fuel-cell systems, which has always sounded odd if Nikola was far along on its own powertrain. The Tre is supposed to enter production next year, according to the timeline.

Back to GM, the automaker has skipped a tentative closing date for its contract with Nikola. The deal was supposed to close on Wednesday, but the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday that GM has pushed the contract signing back as it likely renegotiates the deal’s terms. 

“Our transaction with Nikola has not closed,” the automaker told Roadshow in a statement. “We are in discussions with current Nikola management and will provide further updates when appropriate or required.” 

Following the departure of Nikola’s former Executive Chairman Trevor Milton, two women have since come forward alleging Milton sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. “In light of recent allegations regarding the personal behavior of [Milton], we want to emphasize that GM strongly condemns sexual harassment and abuse of any kind,” GM said. 

The deal never seemed to provide GM much of anything, but following fraud allegations and Milton stepping down and vanishing from social media, it feels like GM has a lot more to lose if things continue to go south. While Nikola receives hardware for its promised lineup of semi trucks and its promised Badger pickup, GM was to get Nikola stock worth $2 billion. In the past month Nikola stock fell nearly 55%, though shares rose nearly 5% in premarket trading on Wednesday.


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