Nikola postpones showcase day because it tries to win again investor confidence

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Nikola has delayed a long-awaited occasion to showcase its automobiles and battery know-how, because the start-up battles a disaster that led to the departure of its founder Trevor Milton.

The Arizona-based firm mentioned on Wednesday that its “Nikola World” occasion in December, the place it was set to display automobiles together with the Badger pick-up truck, has been postponed, with out giving a brand new date.

Whereas Nikola pointed to Arizona’s restrictions on massive gatherings in gentle of the pandemic, the delay comes because the group tries to win again buyers’ confidence after a short-seller earlier levelled allegations of fraud towards an organization that was briefly one of many hottest shares on Wall Road.

In an extended assertion on Wednesday, seemingly designed to reset expectations and make clear timelines for a corporation that solely went public in June, Nikola detailed its tasks and their progress. It reconfirmed key dates in its product growth, together with the launch of its first truck to be manufactured by Iveco in Germany late subsequent 12 months. The group mentioned it is usually on observe to start manufacturing at a facility in Arizona in 2022.

The market worth of Nikola has collapsed since a report from short-seller Hindenburg Analysis on September 10 claimed the corporate was an “intricate fraud”. Mr Milton, the corporate’s public face, has vowed to defend himself towards “false allegations” after quitting the group final week. Nikola has mentioned the allegations are “false and deceptive”.

Since his exit, the corporate has confronted additional scrutiny over how a lot of its know-how originates in-house — the main focus of a lot of the Hindenburg report. Over the weekend, the Monetary Instances reported that Mr Milton had bought designs for its debut truck, the Nikola One, from a designer in Croatia in 2015, regardless of Nikola saying in a newer lawsuit towards Tesla that Mr Milton started work on the undertaking “in his basement”.

Alongside its assertion, Nikola on Wednesday launched a video exhibiting its vehicles driving on a wide range of roads, a feat that may be unremarkable had the corporate not been pressured to confess this month that an earlier product clip confirmed one in every of its automobiles rolling down a hill.

The disaster engulfing the group has raised concern that its flagship partnership with Normal Motors is beneath risk.

Simply days earlier than Hindenburg made its allegations, GM struck a take care of Nikola through which the US carmaker took an 11 per cent stake within the start-up, then price $2bn. The deal had been because of shut on Wednesday, however each firms mentioned they continue to be in negotiations.

The plunge in shares in Nikola, which was briefly price greater than GM’s longstanding rival Ford, left the worth of GM’s deliberate stake at simply $750m.

The settlement, which may also commit GM to fabricate the Nikola Badger and provide its battery or hydrogen techniques, has till early December to shut, beneath the phrases of the unique deal.

In its prolonged assertion on Wednesday, Nikola sought to pitch itself as “an Unique Gear Producer (OEM) whose experience lies in design, innovation, software program and engineering”.

“We assemble, combine, and fee our automobiles in collaboration with assist from enterprise companions and suppliers,” it added.

Its Tre prototype vehicles will likely be considerably accomplished in Ulm, Germany “within the subsequent few weeks”, the corporate mentioned, whereas its manufacturing plant in Coolidge, Arizona will likely be partly completed in 2021 and totally full in mid-2023, with the capability to construct 35,000 vehicles a 12 months. 

Testing of its gas cell truck prototypes will start in 2022, with manufacturing beginning the next 12 months, the corporate mentioned. Beer firm Anheuser-Busch beforehand mentioned it has ordered 800 of the gas cell vehicles.

The corporate additionally mentioned it “stays dedicated” to saying a “main collaboration for hydrogen manufacturing and hydrogen fuelling stations by the top of the 12 months”. It plans to interrupt floor on its first industrial hydrogen station within the spring of 2021.

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