Nikola says it built the first prototype of its electric semitruck as it reports third-quarter losses and grapples with fraud allegations
- Nikola announced Monday that it completed the first prototype of its Tre semitruck.
- It built the prototype in partnership with manufacturer IVECO, and plans to finish four more prototypes by the end of the year.
- One of the central fraud allegations Hindenburg Research leveled against Nikola earlier this year had to do with the capabilities of its first semitruck prototype, the Nikola One.
Hydrogen-electric vehicle startup Nikola has completed the first prototype of its Tre semi-truck, the company announced in its third-quarter earnings report Monday.
During the third quarter, Nikola began building five electric Tre prototypes in partnership with truck manufacturer IVECO at the latter's Ulm, Germany plant. It recently completed the first truck, and expects to finish the the remaining four preproduction models by the end of 2020, Nikola said.
"In the third quarter of 2020, Nikola made significant progress on key milestones," said Nikola CEO Mark Russell in a statement. "We delivered on our commitment to assemble the first Nikola Tre BEV prototypes and are continuing to work with customers on the prospective and previously announced BEV truck orders."
According to Nikola, the Tre will have a 720-kWh battery pack and a range of approximately 300 miles. Nikola previously said deliveries of the battery-powered truck will begin in 2021, with a hydrogen-fuel-cell version arriving in 2023.
Nikola continues to grapple with fallout after short-seller Hindenburg Research published a lengthy report accusing the startup and its founder Trevor Milton of deceiving investors. The company has denied most of those claims, but the report led to Milton's departure from the company, sent Nikola's share price tumbling, triggered federal investigations, and cast a deal with General Motors into doubt.
One of Hindenburg's central allegations was that Milton exaggerated the capabilities of the prototype of his debut semi, the Nikola One. Nikola eventually admitted that the Nikola One could not drive under its own power, confirming that part of the short-seller's report as well as prior reporting by Bloomberg's Edward Ludlow.
Given that Nikola doesn't have a product to sell yet and thus no significant revenue coming in, the company wasn't expected to post a profit for the third quarter — it reported a adjusted net loss of roughly $58.8 million. However, in a bit of good news for the company, it confirmed that its negotiations with GM are ongoing.
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