Nikola electric lorry just rolling downhill in promo video
Producer Nikola admitted that a promotional video on YouTube shows his hydrogen-powered truck rolling downhill rather than moving on its own.
The video, released by founder Trevor Milton in January 2018 and viewed more than 260,000 times, appears to show the truck driving along a highway in the desert.
Nikola denied misleading investors and false advertising, adding that a working truck was filmed in 2019.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating.
Nikola said he had “contacted and informed” the SEC and intended to fully cooperate with its investigation.
The 2018 video was accompanied by the text: “Here is the Nikola One zero-emission 1,000 hp semi-trailer in motion.”
But the company has now admitted that although the truck’s gearbox, batteries, and other components were in working order, it didn’t have a working hydrogen fuel cell.
“When Nikola moved on to the next generation of trucks, he ultimately decided not to invest additional resources in completing the process to have the Nikola One drive with its own propulsion,” he said in a 2,700-word response to a Hindenburg Research report. it said it was “false and defamatory” and designed to benefit so-called short sellers – investors who bet a stock will drop in price – including Hindenburg himself.
Nikola also admitted using a third-party inverter, a key electrical component, and hiding it with a sticker in a video.
But he said this was “common practice” among vehicle manufacturers, adding that he was designing, engineering and working on their own inverters.
The company is building a factory in Arizona and plans to start production of a battery electric truck by the end of 2021.
And in 2022 it will begin production of its Badger pickup, which will use hydrogen fuel cells supplied by General Motors, as well as its planned articulated trucks.
Shares of Nikola and GM have fallen in price since the Hindenburg report was released.
And Nikola is now threatening lawsuits against the research firm.