The head of Nikola, GM’s electric truck partner, rejects fraud complaints


Less than two weeks after signing a $ 2 billion deal with General Motors, electric truck founder Nikola Corp. resigned, claiming he had repeatedly lied about the company’s technology.

The resignation of Trevor Milton as Executive Chairman, announced late Sunday, came after the investment fund Hindenburg Research announced a report accusing him of making many false claims about Nikola’s technology, including a once-made video in which a truck was rolled down a slope to make it look like the company had created a working prototype.

The stock exchange company Hindenburg, which claimed to be making a profit by betting that Nikola’s share price would fall, called Nikola a “serious scam”. Her report came only a few days after the company and GM agreed to cooperate in the production of cordless pickups and hydrogen trucks.

Nikola, based in Phoenix, called Hindenburg’s accusations “lying and slanderous“And said he would complain to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nikola shares, which jumped after the agreement with GM, lost 40 percent of their value after the Hindenburg report. On Monday morning, after the announcement of Mr. Milton’s resignation, trading in the forward market, shares fell another 23 percent.

Mr Milton said in a statement that “the focus should be on the company and its mission to change the world, not me. So I made a difficult decision to apply to the board and resign voluntarily. “

Stephen Girsky, former vice president of GM and board member of Nikola, will serve as chairman.

Denying Hindenburg’s allegations, Nikola admitted that a prototype truck in 2017 appeared in a promotional video. Does not work on its own. “Nikola never indicated in the video that the truck was driving on its own,” the company said in a statement. Nikola said he has since developed fully functional models.

The agreement with GM provided for the possibility of providing substantial assistance in assembling the pickup that Nikola hopes to deliver by 2022. The end. In exchange, GM took 11 percent. The company’s shares, then valued at $ 2 billion. USD.

Nikola quoted its shares on the stock exchange, and at the end of the trade on Friday it was worth almost 13 billion. USD, although it has essentially no revenue and has not yet sold or manufactured any trucks.

Regardless of the state of the art, few companies have experienced Nikola’s weather rise. Mr. 2014 He founded Nikola with a plan to produce zero-emission trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells and batteries.

His ambitions reflect Tesla, another company that sought to drive the automotive industry. Mr. Milton even used the same source for his company name – Serbian and American inventor Nikola Tesla.

Mr. Milton introduced a semi-trailer called the Nikola One in 2016. And said it works. “It’s not a pusher,” he said. Milton at the event, using the industrial term for a modeled vehicle that cannot be driven and needs to be pushed.

In its report, Hindenburg Research said that a promotional video showing the moving 2017 Prototype, and p. Milton’s statements were part of an “ocean of lies.” He also accused Mr Milton of claiming that Nikola had patented technology when it supplied components.

Hindenburg founder Nathan Anderson, 37, declined to say how much money his company had spent on shortening Nikola’s shares or how much it had earned since the report was published.

Hindenburg has a disclosure of investment funds and companies whose numbers do not match. In some cases, these findings led to senior resignations or investigations by regulators.

“If someone lies when a product works, when it doesn’t work, or when a product is finished, when it’s not, it looks like a scam,” Mr said. “I think investors deserve honest answers to what they’re actually buying.”

One issue with Hindenburg’s allegations is that they arose when Nikola was still a private individual and before he was bound by the SEC’s disclosure rules for publicly available companies.

September 11 In a Twitter message, Mr Milton said Hindenburg’s accusations were a “lie” and noted that his company had left the law firm Kirkland & Ellis to work with the SEC

“To be clear, this was not an investigation report and it is not accurate,” Nikola said in a statement. “It was a popular job when stocks led to short sales.”

After denying Hindenburg’s claims in writing for a long time, Nikola admitted that the truck shown in 2017. In the promotional video, he does not move himself, but claims that a semi-truck called the Nikola Tre was produced in a joint venture with Iveco. An Italian truck manufacturer said it would be available for purchase late next year. The garbage truck Republic Services placed an order for 2,500 electric garbage trucks, Nikola added.

Mr Milton has also published photographs which he claims are being collected in Ulm, Germany. “Do they look fake?” he wrote.

Before resigning p. For Milton, Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research, who monitors the development of electric vehicles, said the company’s idea of ​​powering and building a network of gas stations across the country has a basis.

A purely battery-powered semi-car that Tesla bets on is likely to have a smaller range than trucks with hydrogen fuel cells, and a massive battery that can take hours to charge – a downtime that can prove too expensive for truck companies.

“Nikola’s vision really makes a lot of sense,” he said. “But whether they can make it happen is a whole other story.”

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