The Badger truck is already dead, so now what?
Everything began to fall apart for Nikola Motors last September. In the space of just one week, the EV truck start-up went from securing a $2 billion investment deal with General Motors to suffering a 50 percent drop in value. The release of a short-seller report accusing Nikola of deception, fraud, and misleading investors led to the resignation of CEO and founder Trevor Milton. Nikola immediately began to reorganize, appointed a new CEO, and attempted to salvage the GM deal.
A completely new agreement was struck in late November that calls for GM supplying a fuel-cell system for Nikola's Class 7 and Class 8 commercial semi-trucks. The Badger pickup truck, a hopeful Tesla Cybertruck and Rivian R1T rival, is officially dead because GM refuses to build it, as per the old agreement.
And now Nikola has announced another setback.
Nikola and Republic Services, a US-based waste disposal company, have terminated an agreement that would have seen the former supply electric garbage trucks.
"This was the right decision for both companies given the resources and investments required," said Nikola's new CEO Mark Russell. "We support and respect Republic Services' commitment to achieving environmentally responsible, sustainable solutions for their customers. Nikola remains laser-focused on delivering on our battery-electric and fuel-cell electric commercial truck programs, and the energy infrastructure to support them."
No precise reasons were given for ending the agreement, but reading between the lines it seems like there were too many challenges and the business case was no longer there. Nikola reiterated it still has a roadmap to begin deliveries of its battery-electric semis sometime next year and will soon break ground on its first commercial hydrogen station. The fuel-cell version of those semi-trucks will begin production at Nikola's Arizona facility in 2023.
Despite Nikola's troubles, it's far from totally crumbling apart; it's still worth a little over $6 billion, though it was valued at $34 billion before the short-seller report's release.