Despite a flurry of rumors and social media posts that excited investors far and wide Thursday, Nikola has not finalized any kind of a deal with General Motors Co.
“We have not closed yet. Don’t have any other update,” GM spokesman James Cain said in an e-mail to TheDetroitBureau.com.
Cain also said the jump in Nikola’s share price earlier this week was triggered by some bad information. Apparently, a GM social media post dating back to September was re-cycled this week, he said. There was nothing new about the state of the discussions between the two companies, he said.
“Both Nikola and GM addressed the issue when the misinformation triggered the rally,” Cain added.
The GM deal is considered critical to the Nikola’s future. But GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra didn’t mention Nikola as she outlined GM’s investments in electric vehicles during a web conference for investors organized by Barclays Bank.
A transcript prepared after the meeting by the website Seeking Alpha indicated that Barra did present a detailed summary of GM’s plans for making batteries and building future EVs. However, she apparently did not mention Nikola during her presentation.
Nikola is already under scrutiny by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, and skeptical analysts that have expressed doubts about the company’s plans and its technology.
Investors looking for the next Tesla in the automotive sector boosted the price of Nikola’s stock by 15 % Wednesday to $26.93 per share. However, the shares retreated to $26.43 Thursday and declined further in “after hours” trading. Nikola’s share hit $50.00 per share Sept. 8 when the tentative deal with GM was announced.
Nikola, according to the company’s website, has developed zero-emission trucks and battery-electric and hydrogen-electric powertrains. But even new funding it received earlier this year by going public, using a blank-check company, also known as a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC, it apparently requires GM’s battery and fuel-cell technology to put vehicles on the road.
Nikola’s stock currently is worth nearly roughly $10.6 billion prior to any equity distribution to GM. Under the terms of proposed deal announced in September, GM was scheduled to finish the development and then build the Nikola Badger pickup truck at its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant also known as Factory One.
The partnership was expected close by Sept. 30, but it was delayed in the wake of allegations made by a short seller, Hindenburg Research, which made a variety of claims about the company. This forced GM to engage in further due diligence, especially after the departure of former Nikola CEO Trevor Milton due to the charges and subsequent investigation by the SEC. Either side can cancel the deal prior to Dec. 3, according an SEC filing from Nikola.
Barra told the Barclays conference GM was pushing ahead with its electric vehicle plans.
Fully 40% of the company’s U.S. entries will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025, she said. Barra also announced was increase its overall financial commitment to electric and autonomous vehicles to $27 billion through 2025 – up from the $20 billion planned before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Climate change is real, and we want to be part of the solution by putting everyone in an electric vehicle,” said Barra. “We are transitioning to an all-electric portfolio from a position of strength and we’re focused on growth. We can accelerate our EV plans because we are rapidly building a competitive advantage in batteries, software, vehicle integration, manufacturing and customer experience.”