After weeks of deals, the partnership between Nikola and General Motors has fizzled out with a non-binding memorandum of understanding that sees the innovative Badger electric pickup truck killed off.
The previous agreement with GM, worth $2 billion (£1.49bn) and signed just three months ago, has been superseded with the latest MOU, which shifts the focus of the partnership towards integrating GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology into Nikola’s medium- and long-haul trucks.
“We are excited to take this important step with GM, which provides an opportunity to leverage the resources, strengths and talent of both companies,” said Mark Russell, chief executive officer of Nikola. “Heavy trucks remain our core business and we are 100% focused on hitting our development milestones to bring clean hydrogen and battery-electric commercial trucks to market. By working with GM, we are reinforcing our companies’ shared commitment to a zero-emission future.”
That zero-emission future won’t include the Badger pickup truck, with Nikola insisting that its production requires a partnership with an existing manufacturer. GM had contemplated an equity stake in Nikola, as well as the development of the Badger electric pickup, but it’s difficult to see how either party would have benefitted from such a deal. Seemingly, GM has reached the same conclusion.
The Badger made quite an impact when launched. Nikola promised a 160-kWh battery with at least a 300-mile range, allowing the truck to compete with regular diesel-powered models. However, with 906hp and more than 1,300Nm of torque, performance would have been significantly ahead of anything else on the market. A hydrogen-powered model was also in the works.
Nikola was described by its founder, Trevor Milton, as “a technology disruptor and integrator” with ambitions to become a global leader in hydrogen-powered trucking. However, it has since been mired in a series of scandals, with claims of fraud, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, accusations of sexual abuse, and Hindenburg Research saying the firm was an “intricate fraud built on dozens of lies.” The firm’s share price has dropped by almost 80% since its peak in June.
Nikola has confirmed that it will refund all previously submitted order deposits for the Badger.