After finding itself in hot water following the release of a report from Hindenburg Research with claims of deception, Nikola Motors has issued a response to the allegations. The company has even admitted to faking the video of their electric hydrogen truck actually driving.
Nikola issued a full response to the report this morning. One of the most serious allegations is that in 2018 Nikola faked a video of its prototype driving on the road. Along with the allegations, Hindenburg provided evidence that the Nikola One electric semi seen in the video was not in fact driving, but appeared to be as a result of being towed up a low grade hill and then released.
Nikola and founder Trevor Milton quickly responded claiming the allegation was a lie. However, just a quickly the company admitted that the prototype was not drivable at the time of filming the “Nikola One Electric Semi Truck In Motion” video:
Short Seller Distorts Nikola One 2017 Third Party ‘Future of Transportation’ Promotion Video and Creates a Popular Lie: Hindenburg seeks to portray Nikola as misrepresenting the capabilities of the Nikola One prototype in a 2017 video produced by a third party, as ‘simply filmed rolling down a big hill.’ Nikola never stated its truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video, although the truck was designed to do just that (as described in previous point). The truck was showcased and filmed by a third party for a commercial. Nikola described this third-party video on the Company’s social media as ‘In Motion.’ It was never described as ‘under its own propulsion’ or ‘powertrain-driven.’ Nikola investors who invested during this period, in which the Company was privately held, knew the technical capability of the Nikola One at the time of their investment. This three-year-old video of a Nikola prototype is irrelevant except for the fact that the short seller is trying to use it for its main thesis. The fact is, Nikola has real working hydrogen fuel-cell powered semi-trucks. Any reports intended to suggest that Nikola’s trucks do not drive are erroneous, and recent videos of Nikola vehicles driving can be found here.
Nikola’s defense isn’t exactly a good one, as they claim they never stated that the prototype was driving under its own propulsion, but that it was only “in motion” in the video title.
Another likely damaging claim is the act of adopting and claiming the development and ownership of technology that was actually purchased. Milton previously claimed that the company developed their own inverter and even released a video of it. More evidence was presented showing it was actually a Cascadia inverter with a piece of masking tape covering its logo.
Nikola’s response to this claim is as follows: Short Seller Alleges That Nikola Buys and Does Not Make Inverters In-House: In its report, Hindenburg misrepresents that Nikola is claiming a third-party inverter is the Company’s own technology by placing a sticker over the supplier’s name. At no time did Nikola state that the inverter on the prototype truck shown in the video was the Company’s or would be used in production. Nikola has been designing, engineering, and working on its own inverters for quite some time. The Company does use third-party parts in prototype vehicles, some of which may be subsequently swapped out for its own parts in production. This is common practice among vehicle manufacturers and Nikola often blocks supplier names from the view of media and competitors. Every program is different as they require different specifications and validation.
However, in another video presented by Hindenburg, Milton specifically discusses the technology the company is developing while looking at the trucks powertrain. During this, the Cascadia inverter is seen clear as day.