Plan to engineer and build Nikola Badger seems over
Deal redone after major allegations against Nikola
The agreement that would have seen General Motors build electric and fuel cell trucks for upstart Nikola has taken a big hit, but not all is lost. There will still be some business relationship between the two, but it will be far from the supplier relationship and equity stake that was originally proposed following months of allegations against Nikola and the departure of the company’s founder.
As announced in September, GM would get a US $2b stake in Nikola in exchange for engineering and building the Nikola Badger in EV and fuel cell forms, for production starting by the end of 2022. It would see the Badger use GM’s Ultium battery system as well as the Hydrotec fuel cell technology, helping GM to bring the latter to market at scale. GM would also supply fuel cell tech for Nikola big rigs globally (outside of Europe).
The announcement from GM today was that the automaker and Nikola had signed a “non-binding memorandum of understanding” to supply Hyrdotec fuel cell systems for Nikola’s Class 7/8 trucks, large commercial trucks, and that the supply would be global.
Under the new deal, Nikola would pay for capital investment for the additional capacity as well as for the fuel cell systems themselves, rather than exchanging equity for the arrangement. GM said that it and Nikola would also discuss the potential of supplying the Ultium battery system for the trucks.
“This supply agreement recognizes our leading fuel cell technology expertise and development,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Providing our Hydrotec fuel cell systems to the heavy-duty class of commercial vehicles is an important part of our growth strategy and reinforces our commitment toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future.”
Almost immediately after the initial agreement was announced, reports surfaced claiming deception on the part of Nikola and founder Trevor Milton. Milton’s response to the allegations failed to rebut many of them, including a claim that its initial hydrogen truck demonstration was falsified. Milton left the company, but that didn’t save the original agreement.