Nikola plans to go through with its plan to produce a series of electric and hydrogen-powered commercial and recreational vehicles even if its partnership with General Motors falls through.
Speaking to Automotive News, Nikola CEO Mark Russell said the company has a plan to fall back on if its technology alliance with GM doesn’t pan out, though he acknowledged that following through on the deal would still be the ideal course of action to take.
“We have the ability and we have a base plan of doing it ourselves. If we have a partner, that just enables us to consider going faster and helps reduce the risk,” Russell told the publication. “We’ve proven that over the years that we are a partnership company when those things are available to us.”
GM entered an agreement with Nikola in September, giving it access to its electric and hydrogen vehicle technology and agreeing to engineer and build the Nikola Badger heavy-duty electric pickup truck on behalf of the start-up. GM would receive an 11% stake in the company in exchange for its efforts, along with some added scale for its pricy hydrogen and EV systems. The two companies went back to the negotiating table, however, after it was revealed that Nikola founder Trevor Milton exaggerated the capabilities of its technology and mislead investors. Milton has since stepped down from the company and has now had two formal sexual assault complaints filed against him.
While Nikola will go forth with its electric semi-truck and recreational vehicle plans no matter what, the Badger pickup truck will not be produced without an OEM partner, Russell said.
“The Badger is part of our discussions with GM,” he explained. And we’ve been clear all along that we wouldn’t build a Badger without an OEM partner.”
GM had said previously that it expected the Nikola deal to close by September 30th, although it also included a clause saying either side could choose to terminate the agreement if it was not finalized by December 3rd. A GM spokesperson also said the company is continuing discussions with Nikola “and will provide further updates when appropriate or required.”
It is believed GM may now be seeking a larger stake in Nikola in exchange for its services, as the negative press surrounding the company tanked its shares by nearly 60% from their September high.
Bosch, another Nikola partner that is key to helping it achieve its goals, has also decided to forge ahead with its partnership with the company. The two are currently working on the Nikola Two electric cab-over pickup truck and says it remains “in close contact with the company and its management,” on the project.