After a tumultuous time in the past year which has seen allegations of fraud, a failed joint venture with GM, the resignation of its founder and chairman and a raft of corporate delays and troubles, Hydrogen vehicle start up Nikola says it has re sharpened its focus and says it is moving forward with plans to market its Tre cabover battery-electric truck in North America, followed by other fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
Gone are Nikola’s plans to develop a pickup truck in partnership with GM, powersports equipment, and garbage truck in partnership with Republic Services, all of which were part of the aftermath of the shakeup following the departure of founder Trevor Milton and the accusations by market shortsellers that Nikola had manipulated claims about its product readiness.
“This is the best position the company has ever been in to execute on our core business plan,” said Nikola CEO, Mark Russell recently.
Nikola says it has built five Tre cabover battery electric prototypes and adds that two are undergoing winter testing at a proving grounds in the USA, while another two are in powertrain and durability testing in Arizona, and the final prototype is undergoing further testing in Germany.
Nikola says another nine are about to be produced at Nikola’s factory at Ulm in Germany and that these will be the first trucks Nikola will deliver to the North American market with the anticipation of producing between 50 and 100 Tre Battery Electric Vehicle for delivery this year.
“There’s been a lot of interest in the Tre and we found North American customers really wanted the Tre to come to America, so we started working on a battery version of the Tre for the North American market. In just about a year, we have prototypes in production testing and validation,” Russell said.
Nikola says it is planning to announce a customer launch later this year targeting deliveries in the fourth quarter.
Nikola recently announced that its Tre fuel cell electric vehicle will enter production in the second half of 2023, and that its longhaul Nikola Two FCEV with sleeper is targeted for a launch in late 2024.
The company says that its key partner, major brewer and beverage maker, Anheuser Bush has stuck by the embattled zero emission truck company and continues to back its development of fuel cell vehicles.
Nikola lost about$AUD190.5 million (US$147 million) in the fourth quarter of 2020, and around $AUD497 million ($US384 million) for the whole year.
CEO Russell did however lay out several objectives for 2021 following the restructure of the company including starting trial production at its joint venture manufacturing facility at Iveco’s Ulm campus in Germany by June this year, the start-up of trial production at its greenfield manufacturing facility in Coolidge, Arizona from the third quarter and the intention of breaking ground on its first commercial hydrogen station infrastructure.
The company also says that it will be announcing hydrogen collaboration partners and electricity procurement arrangements as well as delivering the first Nikola Tre BEVs to customers during the fourth quarter of 2021.
Time will tell if Nikola always bold promises will this time be fulfilled or if the hangover of previous hollow promises will stay with it.