Nikola Corp an aspiring battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell truck maker, made it’s debut on Nasdaq last week following a reverse merger with VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. VectoIQ is headed by a former General Motors Co. executive and board director, Steve Girsky, who helped lead the carmaker out of bankruptcy.
Nikola is one of the first pure-play electric vehicle competitors to Tesla. The zero-emissions vehicle manufacturer based in Pheonix, was founded in 2016 by Trevor Milton. The company is focused on building electric and fuel cell powered trucks, including a pick-up truck and 18-wheeler.
From inception until end of 2019, Nikola Corp has recorded a loss of about $188.5 million. The company is forecasting zero revenue for 2020, its first revenue in 2021 and its first $1 billion revenue year won’t be until 2023.
Ford Motor Co., by comparison, is expected to report about $115 billion of revenue for this year. And yet Nikola, whose stock more than doubled Monday, traded up another 30% to as high as $95 after the close, giving the company a richer market capitalization than the almost 117-year-old maker of the F-150. Nikola market capitalization rose to as much $26 billion on Monday, according to Bloomberg.
Trevor Milton, Nikola’s executive chairman, said “Nikola’s No. 1 goal is stable growth over time.” While talking about the investors interest in the company stock, the 38-year-old said several factors could be behind the stock’s gain such as his tweet that the company will start taking reservations for its Badger pickup. Milton’s fortune now stands at $9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
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The Badger model that Milton said may have gotten the market excited on Monday might not actually make it into production yet. In Nikola’s public-offering filing, the company said it is focused on making Class 8 heavy-duty vehicles and doesn’t expect to build the Badger unless it finds an established manufacturer to partner with.
A spokesperson for the company said Nikola will announce a partner in the near future, without giving more specifics.
Last week, Milton relinquished the chief executive officer job to Mark Russell, a former COO of metals manufacturer Worthington Industries Inc. who has been president of Nikola since February 2019.
Nikola had about $86 million in cash at the end of last year. Prior to the stock listing, it had raised more than $500 million of private capital, though that includes a $150 million in-kind contribution from CNH Industrial NV, the truck maker linked to Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family. CNH also invested $100 million cash in Nikola last year.
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The partnership with CNH includes a 50-50 venture in Europe that aims to start producing battery-electric trucks in Germany in the first half of next year and a North American alliance that Nikola will fully own.
Nikola is planning to build a 1-million-square-foot facility south of Phoenix and start making trucks in 2021. It’s expecting to reach full production of about 30,000 fuel cell-electric vehicles in 2027 and 15,000 battery-electric vehicles the following year.