Just a day after Nikola Motor announced a deal to potentially sell 100 Class 8 electrified big rigs, the company revealed it lost $120.3 million in the first quarter.
The Phoenix-based maker of battery-electric and fuel cell-electric semi trucks also warned analysts during its earnings call that it’s facing supply constraints not just on semiconductors, but also batteries, touch screens and other parts.
Nikola said it has enough battery cells to achieve its plan to build 50-100 battery-electric Tre deliveries in 2021, but battery makers have yet to make a commitment to next year’s supplies. However, it noted it finished its first round of its battery-electric Tre heavy-duty trucks and is now in the validation process.
“During the first quarter Nikola continued to deliver on our previously communicated milestones and execute on our business plan,” said Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive officer. “We have had continued success in commissioning and validating the Nikola Tre BEVs, and are nearing completion of both our Ulm, Germany and Coolidge, Arizona manufacturing facilities.”
More trucks coming
The company is also “nearing completion” on a second round of Tre BEVs it’s building in Ulm, Germany. Eight of the nine trucks are done and the final vehicle should be ready next week.
“Three trucks from the second batch of nine are at Nikola’s headquarters (HQ) in Arizona, one is in Indiana for crash testing, and four are in transit to the HQ in Arizona. We anticipate that the four trucks in transit, in addition to the ninth truck being completed, will arrive at our HQ by the end of May,” the company said in a release.
The company is also making progress on its joint venture facility with Iveco in Ulm. The two will work jointly on autonomous vehicle systems. Trial production is slated to begin in June. The company’s primary facility near Phoenix is progressing and pre-production vehicle builds are scheduled to begin in July.
Down, but not dead, Nikola Motor is climbing its way back to prominence, announcing a new deal to work with Total Transportation Services Inc. to develop Class 8 battery-electric and fuel cell-electric trucks for use at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach.
The project includes vehicle trials and, assuming that goes according to plan, a letter of intent to purchase 100 Nikola Class 8 BEVs and FCEVs. The collaboration will focus on the Nikola Tre, which comes in both formats.
The BEV model is designed to handle local transport of goods within a 350-mile range while the fuel-cell version can travel up 500 miles and enjoys the advantage of being quicker to refuel than its battery-electric sibling.
“The Nikola Tre trucks are exactly the type of zero-emission solution we need to be using at the port,” said Vic LaRosa, president of TTSI, in a statement. “Our trucks operate for 18-20 hours a day making the benefits of the Nikola portfolio a perfect match for our needs.
“The expected availability of the BEV aligns with our desire to reach our sustainability goals quickly and the FCEV is ideal for longer-range applications. Nikola’s value proposition of the truck and hydrogen fuel bundled together made this partnership even more appealing to our leadership team.”
Stock sees little bump
The news gave the company’s stock a little jolt, pushing it up as much as 7.5% from $10.38 a share to $11.24 before it fell back, closing at $10.14 a share, down slightly for the day. It was up slightly in after-hours trading.
It marked the second time in about a month that good news coming from the controversial company got investors buzzing. On April 22, the company’s energy division revealed plans to team with TravelCenters of America Inc. to install hydrogen fueling stations for heavy-duty trucks.
The first two stations will be built at existing TravelCenter locations in California. The companies expect them to be commercially operational in early 2023. These stations are expected to accelerate adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell-powered commercial electric trucks.
Paired with the expected 500-mile range of the previously announced Nikola Tre fuel cell-electric vehicle, the launch stations will enable operations of zero-emission heavy-duty commercial vehicles in and around the greater Los Angeles region and north through California’s Central Valley, Nikola officials said in release.
Making a comeback?
Nikola securing new partnerships is a positive sign for the company, which was thrust into a very uncomfortable spotlight after forging a massive $2-billion deal with General Motors. That deal was scaled down from GM taking an ownership stake and building a midsize electric pickup for the Phoenix-based company to a partnership to work on fuel-cell technology.
The spotlight came from short-selling research firm Hindenburg Research, which released a report claiming Nikola was based on “intricate fraud built on dozen of lies” perpetrated by Milton. That quickly triggered an SEC probe and led to the decision by founder and Chairman Trevor Milton to resign last September.