Nikola stock falls 14 percent after CEO downplays Badger truck plans

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A large pickup truck gradually vanishes.

Enlarge / The front half of the Nikola Badger.

Nikola CEO Mark Russell downplayed the company’s Badger pickup truck in comments to the Financial Times on Thursday.

“The Badger was an interesting and exciting project to some shareholders, but our institutional shareholders are mostly focused on the business plan,” Russell said. “Our core business plan since before we became publicly listed always focused on heavy trucks and hydrogen infrastructure.”

Russell’s comments were published after markets closed on Thursday. Nikola’s stock price plunged on Friday morning and is currently down about 14 percent for the day.

Negotiations with General Motors to design and build the truck have dragged on weeks longer than expected. Nikola and GM announced a wide-ranging partnership on September 8. It envisioned GM not only building the Badger but also supplying the batteries and fuel cells that power the trucks. Under the deal, GM would also supply hydrogen fuel-cell technology for Nikola’s semi trucks outside the European market.

Nikola was supposed to give GM $2 billion worth of stock to license GM’s technology, reimburse GM to build out a Badger factory, and then pay GM on a cost-plus basis to assemble the Badger.

The value of Nikola’s stock soared immediately after the September 8 announcement, but it then tanked after a short-selling firm revealed that Nikola CEO Trevor Milton had lied when he said Nikola’s first truck, the Nikola One, was fully functional. Nikola has admitted that a promotional video showed the truck rolling down a hill, not traveling under its own power. The price decline has made GM’s expected $2 billion stake in Nikola worth much less.

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