- a report from the bloomberg website says that ev startup nikola's ceo exaggerated the capabilities of the nikola one semi-truck at an event in 2016. there have been several recent stories about dramatic growth in the startup's stock price.
- nikola ceo trevor milton took to twitter to push back against the article, the reporter, and bloomberg, announcing that the publication would not be allowed at the company's events. nikola has also threatened legal action.
- the company's latest project is the badger electric truck, slated to make its debut later this summer.
there was a time when a startup founder could get on stage, make a claim, and the assembled audience would nod their heads in agreement mumbling disruption, innovation, and whatever other buzzword was in vogue at the time. then medical-technology startup theranos swindled investors, companies, and even government officials with technology that never worked, and positive reactions without any sort of proof somewhat dwindled. the blowback was that the world is much more critical of newcomers to the market. and that's an important change, especially for companies, like automakers, that deal with the lives of customers.
to that end, this week bloomberg posted a critical article about hydrogen fuel-cell truck and long-haul semi-truck company nikola. according to bloomberg sources, the nikola one semi that was unveiled at an event way back in december 2016 wasn't as drivable as ceo trevor milton implied. the article stated that people familiar with the vehicle and its status at the event were "alarmed" by suggestions that the truck being shown was drivable and noted that there weren't even any fuel cells in the semi at the event.
ceo milton took to twitter to blast the bloomberg report, stating that neither the reporter, ed ludlow, or any other bloomberg reporter would be allowed in a nikola building or event.
as for the drivability of the vehicle, milton said, "i don't back down and happy to take this fight on. the funny part is, he won't hurt me. he hurt himself for this hack job of an article. there were no 'gears and motors missing' you jackjob. they were sitting on the tables to show the audience."
later in the day, milton shared a letter that nikola's chief legal officer, britton worthen, was sending bloomberg and reporter ed ludlow. the document says that the statements in the bloomberg article are "inaccurate, misleading, taken out of context, and hide behind alleged inside sources" and theatened legal action against both the reporter and bloomberg.
when reached by car and driver about the article and milton’s tweets, nikola sent the following statement: "trevor answered all of bloomberg’s questions in the article. the nikola one was a demo prototype that was shown inside a warehouse. for safety, parts were removed and placed on a table. people were inside and outside the vehicle during the event. 2016 was a long time ago and we had an event last year, nikola world 2019, where the fcev trucks were driving outside for two days and thousands of people saw them. we’ve delivered beer in saint louis in our truck with anheuser-busch. nikola is a great company.”
we watched the event that took place on december 1, 2016, that was referenced in the bloomberg piece. at one point milton says, "we will have a chain on the seats to prevent people from coming in, just for the safety i don't want someone to end up doing something and driving this truck off the stage. so, it's a little expensive. you could probably buy a jet with that cost to build this thing. so we're gonna try to keep people from driving off but this thing fully functions and works which is really incredible."
he later states that the chain will keep people from hitting the controls "because they do work." milton also said to the assembled audience that were about to tour the vehicle that "you’re going to see that this is a real truck, not a pusher." a pusher is a show vehicle that doesn’t have the capability to run and needs to be pushed on stage.
when interviewed by bloomberg ahead of the publication of the article, milton said, "i never deceived anyone."