Can We Trust Nikola Motors?
Nikola Motor Corporation has become a bit of a darling in the electric vehicle space. The hopeful hydrogen-electric vehicle maker had its IPO in June at a $12 billion valuation, selling for $33.69 a share.
The hype behind Nikola has been long-established. In 2016, the company unveiled the “Nikola One,” a hydrogen-electric semi-truck. Tesla has also unveiled its clean-energy semi that should enter production in 2021.
While Tesla is by far the world leader in electric vehicle sales and innovation, Nikola claims its vehicles will operate more efficiently with the addition of the hydrogen fuel cell. Nikola states that its semis will be able to go further than the Tesla Semi, weigh less, and charge faster.
A competition forming on the development of clean-energy semi-trucks is exciting, but Tesla — and Hyundai — may not have much to worry about just yet.
Back in 2016 when the Nikola One was unveiled, founder Trevor Milton claimed the truck was drivable. This was refuted by people with knowledge of the vehicle’s capability, claiming key components were removed and that it was not operable on its own.
Milton, with no other option, responded by saying parts were removed for safety reasons and the truck was never operating under its own power. He also claimed he never deceived anyone with the demonstration.
While both the Nikola One and Two have been showcased, neither have began production. The company originally committed to delivering One models this year, but have pushed that back to beef-up its refueling infrastructure. Its hydrogen stations won’t be ready until at least 2022.
The lack of development and proof of the technology is worrisome for Nikola. Nikola is in its sixth year of operation after being founded in 2014. By Tesla’s sixth year, it had already released the Roadster.
The comparison isn’t completely fair, though. Not long before revealing the Nikola One, the company planned on using turbine power for its semi-truck. Nikola has only been working on the hydrogen fuel cell idea for four years.
From an investment standpoint, Nikola still has a lot to prove. There is a good chance not much happens until 2022, but if the hydrogen-electric fuel cell proves to be more efficient than Tesla’s pure electric model, we may start to see a shift in market share.