General Motors and Nikola have signed a new non-binding memorandum of understanding that will see the automaker supply the start-up with hydrogen fuel cell technology only.
The two companies entered a strategic partnership in September in which GM would receive a $2 billion equity stake in Nikola in exchange for engineering and producing the Nikola Badger electric pickup truck. The partnership would have also seen GM supply Nikola with both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell tech for its Class 7 and Class 8 semi-trucks.
This deal fell through after a short-seller accused Nikola of being an “intricate fraud,” which eventually also led to the resignation of company founder and CEO Trevor Milton. Despite the controversy surrounding the company, GM indicated it was still interested in forming some sort of partnership with Nikola and remained in discussion with the Ohio-based company.
Now, according to Reuters, GM and Nikola have signed a new non-binding agreement in which GM will only supply hydrogen fuel cell technology for Nikola to use in its Class 7 and 8 semi-trucks. Nikola may also use GM’s Ultium batteries in its electric trucks going forward, though the two companies are still discussing this potential part of the deal.
Nikola plans to refund all pre-order deposits that customers placed for the Badger pickup truck, as the vehicle’s arrival hinged on it reaching a partnership with a major manufacturer GM. Nikola CEO Mark Russel told Reuters that heavy commercial trucks like the Nikola One and Two are the company’s “core business,” at the moment and that it remains “100% focused on hitting our development milestones to bring clean hydrogen and battery-electric commercial trucks to market.”
The Hydrotec system that GM will supply to Nikola, which was developed in partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda, will be manufactured at the automaker’s Brownstown Township battery plant in Michigan. The Browntown plant currently makes lithium-ion battery packs for the Chevy Bolt EV.
GM believes hydrogen fuel cells will become “increasingly important to the semi-truck market,” in the coming years as they are more efficient than gas or diesel powertrains and better for the environment. The automaker also says that it sees “additional growth opportunities in multiple transportations, stationary and mobile-power end markets,” with regard to hydrogen fuel cell tech, which will help it to further commercialize the technology and receive more returns on its fuel cell investments.