Nikola Delays World Conference, GM Stalls Partnership

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
nikola delays world conference gm stalls partnership

Nikola Corp. has decided to reschedule the Nikola World conference that would have offered the public a look at its all-electric Badger pickup and an opportunity to see what else the company was cooking up. Under normal circumstances, we would all just fault COVID-19 and move on with our frustrating little lives. But the firm was recently accused of having misled investors on the true progress of its technology.

Those allegations were rebuffed by chairman and founder Trevor Milton… before he abruptly left the company and Nikola’s ludicrously high stock valuation pivoted in the wrong direction.

Interestingly, most of the blame seems to be staying with Milton. Nikola shares pitched up on Wednesday, despite the only major change being one more vacant office on the top floor. Meanwhile, CEO Mark Russell has been trying to get everyone stoked about Nikola World and all the amazing stuff that’s supposed to be there in December 2020. That included a view of the Badger pickup, which GM was supposed to build and the company has been taking preorders for since June.

Officially, Nikola is citing the always convenient pandemic-lockdown excuse as the main reason it cannot hold Nikola World 2020. While it could undoubtedly whip up a live stream before December, there has been no mention of an alternative strategy. The company seems adamant that the event should be open to the public or postponed until such an event can be held.

“Due to COVID-19 audience size restrictions at Arizona’s major venues, we have made the decision to reschedule an in-person Nikola World until we can bring the Nikola community together safely,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to provide progress updates across our entire product portfolio.”

While much of that was left up to the imagination, it did say that the first Nikola Tre battery-electric semi prototypes would be “substantially completed” in Germany within the next few weeks. A bit of an oxymoron but presumably better than nothing. Limited production is said to be on track by Q4 of 2021 while the company’s primary manufacturing facility in Coolidge, AZ, is supposed to finish construction by the summer of 2023.

Meanwhile, its planned partnership with General Motors has also been forestalled. The duo was supposed to finalize their deal on Wednesday but the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday that GM had delayed signing. It’s assumed the automaker wants to renegotiate terms following the recent claims that Milton acted fraudulently. He has also been accused by two women of sexual assault before they turned 18.

Though it’s likely the money that has GM most worried. Back when it agreed to partner with Nikola, the firm was worth a cool $2 billion and had what everyone assumed was some of the most advanced battery and hydrogen tech in the industry. The company is now worth about half that and has left everyone wondering as to the legitimacy of some of the previewed equipment.

“Given how far Nikola’s equity has fallen, Milton leaving, and a fraud investigation, I can’t imagine GM is fine with the original terms of the deal anymore and I suspect they are looking for a lot more Nikola equity,” Morningstar’s David Whiston told the Free Press. “They may get it too because if GM walks away, then I believe that news would likely cause further mass selling off of Nikola’s stock.”

[Images: Nikola]

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2 of 17 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Oct 01, 2020

    Hydrogen-powered EVs are better suited for the long haul trucking than BEVs that has to carry super heavy batteries even when they are empty. So I understand why Nicola is so attractive to GM. On the other hand hydrogen hydrogen-powered EVs are much less effective than BEV because hydrogen production and transportation consumes a lot of energy. Nikolas solution is a right mix of both technologies and economically more advantageous than what Tesla may offer.

  • Detroit-X Detroit-X on Oct 02, 2020

    The GM-Niloka "partnership" was/is the match made in heaven. Scam artist joins scam artist. Both reinforce their ass-clown management cultures, ... for the good of, well, the stock price (and China).

  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?
  • Roger hopkins Why do they all have to be 4 door??? Why not a "cab & a half" and a bit longer box. This is just another station wagon of the 21st century. Maybe they should put fake woodgrain on the side lol...