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Nikola Corporation is an American company that has announced a number of concept zero-emissions vehicles since 2016 and has indicated plans to produce some of them in the future. The company is based in Phoenix, Arizona, where its research and development facility is located. The company is named after inventor Nikola Tesla.

As at September 2020, the company is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice over securities fraud allegations.

Nikola was founded by Trevor Milton in 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As of 2016, the first 5,000 Nikola One hydrogen-powered trucks were slated to be built by Fitzgerald in Byrdstown, Tennessee, which produces “gliders”, which are truck vehicle platforms without engines. In March 2019, Nikola acquired a 389-acre parcel in Coolidge, Arizona, for US$23 million, with future state and local tax breaks. Nikola said in 2019 that they expected truck factory construction to start in 2020, truck construction in 2021, and the fabrication of 35–50,000 trucks per year by 2023.

In February 2019, Mark Russell was hired as company president. Russell had most recently been President and CEO of Nikola Corporation’s investor, Worthington Industries.

In April 2019, Nikola held the Nikola World event in Scottsdale, Arizona. The two-day midweek event included a public demo day to show off the Nikola Two truck, the Nikola Tre truck, the Nikola NZT UTV, and the Nikola WAV watercraft.

In March 2020, Nikola announced its plans to merge with VectoIQ Acquisition Corporation (ticker VTIQ), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company run by former General Motors Co. executive Steve Girsky. This resulted in the combined company being listed on the NASDAQ exchange with the NKLA ticker symbol. As part of the merger, founder and CEO Trevor Milton had his title changed from CEO to Executive Chairman and Nikola President Mark Russell became President and CEO.  Nikola’s stock began trading on June 4, 2020, a day after the merger was completed. By June 9, the shares had more than doubled since they began trading, as investors continued to bet on the growth potential of electric transportation. Nikola executive chairman Trevor Milton tweeted in early June that the company would begin taking reservations for the pickup truck, the Badger, on June 29.

The company was valued at around $13 billion in early August 2020, compared to its revenue in the first six months of 2020 of $80,000 ($36,000 of which was attributed to installation of solar facilities for CEO Milton).

On September 8, 2020 Nikola Corporation and General Motors announced a partnership, by which GM would acquire an 11% stake in Nikola (valued at approximately $2 billion at the time of the announcement). GM would also earn the right to nominate one member to Nikola’s board. In return, GM has agreed to use its manufacturing facilities to begin production of the Badger, as well as supply fuel cells and batteries to Nikola globally. Nikola stock jumped by 50% after the announcement.

On September 20, 2020, Milton resigned as Executive Chairman following fraud allegations made in a report released by Hindenburg Research, while allegedly maintaining his stake in the company. News of the short researcher’s allegations caused the share price of Nikola Corp to drop by 20%. Following the resignation, Steve Girsky became Chairman of the Board. Nikola then “issued copyright-takedown notices targeting critics on YouTube who [citing fair use] used clips of the promotional video in which a Nikola One semi-truck was seen rolling down a hill” without a working drive train. The Drive called Nikola’s action an “abuse of YouTube’s copyright takedown system”.

In November 2020, General Motors announced that the proposed deal to take an equity stake in Nikola would no longer occur. A revised deal was proposed, having GM provide Nikola with the promised fuel-cell technology but leaving out the 11% stake in the company, as well as no longer producing the Badger electric pickup truck for the company.

Republic Services stated in December 2020 that the projected partnership announced in August to develop zero-emissions garbage trucks with Nikola, including the production of at least 2,500 to 5,000 trucks into its fleet at the start of 2023, would be terminated. The company has promised to remain committed to incorporating electric trucks into their company. Nikola’s shares fell 9.8% after the announcement was released. Analysts call the canceled order a short-term setback, allowing the company to channel more focus towards the core of the business, being the production of semi-trucks designed for long-haul transport.

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