Badger Begins: Nikola Now Taking Reservations
Early adopters willing to toss cash at an exciting idea have been the lifeblood of modern-day electric vehicles. Without investors believing in Tesla and cramming its sweet cheeks full of cash, it never would have gotten to a point where it could actually manufacture cars. The same is true for the thousands of people dropping deposits on vehicles that have yet to be produced, let alone tested by the community.
It’s time to do the same for American hybrid truck designer Nikola, true believers. The all-electric startup is now accepting deposits on its prospective pickup truck. Due to arrive in a few years, the unit currently has no prototype. Under normal circumstances, we’d continue ribbing the company via monthly updates until it dissolves like Faraday Future. But its ludicrous market valuation seems to indicate that the hype is very real, even if the same cannot be said about its products.
At nearly $23 billion, Nikola’s market capitalization is eerily close to the mainstream automakers it’s targeting. Nikola founder Trevor Milton has even said that the brand hopes to one day surpass Ford as America’s number-one purveyor of pickups. Logistically speaking, that day seems a long way off. Ford has sold the F-Series since before most of us took our first breath, and Nikola hasn’t produced anything as of yet.
Still, their market valuations are about the same. Nikola went public on June 4th and it’s stock valuation quickly went through the roof. Bloomberg recently noted that Milton acknowledging that pre-orders were right around the corner only served to further steepen the curve.
Nikola told prospective investors before going public that its focus was on producing a different type of vehicle — big rig semi trucks starting with a model called the Tre. In a March filing, the company said it didn’t expect to draw up plans for the Badger pickup unless an established manufacturer agreed to make it.
Nikola will have more details to share this summer about its Badger manufacturing partnership, Colleen Robar, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an email.
Investors haven’t registered any concerns about Nikola’s unorthodox approach to vehicle sales. The shares closed Friday at $63.55, up 87 [percent] since their listing, and rose as much as 7.4 [percent] shortly after the start of regular trading Monday.
It still seems crazy to us. While the Nikola One (a hydrogen-powered semi) has debuted in a physical form, it has been said to be incomplete, lacking some of the promised features — most notably the fuel cell that would actually allow it to work. This wouldn’t have been an issue had Mr. Milton not insisted it was fully functional. But the whole ordeal happened several years ago and Nikola surely has enough money to manufacture something that can actually move under its own steam at this point.
Meanwhile, the company has started taking deposits on the Badger. Order forms opened on Monday, with Nikola allowing customers to dump $250, $1,000 or $5,000 into their reservation. Depending on how much is spent, early adopters get some unique perks. The $5,000 package comes with two VIP tickets to Nikola World in December and 25 entries into a sweepstakes that could net them a free Badger. The $1,000 package yields two tickets to the event and five entries to win. And the $250 package comes with a single ticket to Nikola World and a single entry to win the truck.
All deposits also result in a discount once the Badger enters production, whether you want the $60,000 BEV or $80,000 unit with hydrogen power and extended range. Nikola said to expect 906 horsepower and 980 lb-ft of instant torque with a minimum range of 300 miles in the battery electric trim. Both will also have a bunch of unique features, according to Milton, but it seems a little premature to assume anything.
Thus far, we’ve only seen renderings of the model. We won’t even know who will help Nikola build these cars, though we’ve been informed that a mystery partner will be announced at a December event immediately before a prototype Badger’s reveal. Production is not expected to begin until early 2022, however. While buying in absolutely requires a sizable leap of faith, Nikola is offering full refunds until November. Its founder used that as ammo to throw a little shade (always something we like to see in the industry) at Tesla over social media this week.
“Attention reservation holders: Unlike our competitors, we don’t use your money to fund our development. @nikolamotor is guaranteeing and vouching to leave your paid deposits for all vehicles in an account and not consume the funds,” Milton wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “You have a guaranteed ability to get your deposits back until you choose your final colors, specs and your truck enters the assembly line. Without penalty. Now let’s see our competitors agree to that as well. Who’s solid, who’s not. Nikola is solid.”
[Images: Nikola Corporation]
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