Nikola has announced that  former Opel CEO, Michael Lohscheller will take over as its CEO on the 1stJanuary next year when current boss Mark Russell is set to retire.

Lohscheller joined Nikola in February this year and will take up a position on Nikola’s board effective immediately, and will take over from Russell when he departs the CEO role next January the company announced.

The 53 year old Lohscheller was previously the CEO of German automaker Opel under the Peugeot/Fiat/Chrysler conglomerate Stellantis, before he briefly served as CEO of the Vietnamese car maker VinFast. He left VinFast to take a role with Nikola, where he has been praised for being instrumental in getting its Tre battery electric truck into production, as well as achieving development milestones for the Tre hydrogen fuel-cell trucks.

Nikola says it aims to manufacture between 300 and 500 Tre battery electric trucks this year, and appears to be on track to achieve that, having stuck to its production target last week, as well as beating its second-quarter revenue estimates.

Nikola announced that it had produced 50 of the Tre battery electric trucks in the second quarter from its plant in Arizona, delivering 48 of them to dealers, with the company claiming production is  quickly ramping up. As a result of that news, shares in Nikola rose about 6 per cent, after various scandals and set backs had affected the company over the past couple of years.

Its been recognised that Lohscheller has brought more rigour and discipline to Nikola, as well as improving communication and accelerating decision-making.

The 59 year old Mark Russell, 59, replaced Nikola’s founder Trevor Milton as CEO in 2020, after he was accused of defrauding investors by lying about progress of the company in achieving technical and production goals.

Nikola went public in June 2020 and US authorities claim Milton misled investors through social media posts, TV appearances and podcast interviews, which they say were designed to drive Nikola’s stock price up and bolster Milton’s stature as an entrepreneur.

In December last year Nikola agreed to pay $US125 million to settle a related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil fraud case.  Nikola neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s accusations, but the SEC has also charged Milton with civil fraud.