American start-up scraps pick-up plans to focus on developing hydrogen trucks
The Arizona-based company has been planning a range of electric and hydrogen fuel cell commercial and off-road vehicles. It attracted comparisons with Tesla when it floated on the US Nasdaq earlier this year and investors pushed its share valuation from $12 billion to $33 billion within days.
The company’s soaring share price attracted suspicion from some financial analysts and company founder Trevor Milton was ousted in September.
Nikola had opened orders in June for the Badger pick-up, which was to be offered with electric and fuel cell powertrains, and initially said it would reveal the model in December. The machine was claimed to produce a peak of 894bhp, with 980lb ft of torque.
In September, Nikola signed a deal with GM, giving the US car giant an 11% equity stake – then worth around £1.53 billion – in return for the use of GM’s Ultium battery and Hydrotec fuel cell technology. GM was also going to manufacture the Badger for Nikola.
But the two firms have now signed a memorandum of understanding over a scaled-back new deal. Under the revised agreement, Nikola will still use GM’s hydrogen technology in its planned range of commercial lorries and the two firms will “discuss” the use of GM’s batteries in those vehicles.
But GM will no longer take an equity stake in Nikola and the deal does not include development of the Badger.
In a statement, Nikola said: “As previously announced, the Nikola Badger programme was dependent on an OEM partnership. Nikola will refund all previously submitted order deposits for the Nikola Badger.”
Nikola said it is on course to begin testing “production-engineered” versions of its hydrogen fuel cell trucks before the end of 2021.