Nikola Badger Was Actually An F-150 Raptor All Along

Trucks / 6 Comments

New evidence shows that Nikola's founder was selling more snake oil than EVs.

Remember the Nikola Badger? It was supposed to be a rugged off-roader coming in 2020. Then it got postponed. After that, news began to circulate that the oft-troubled Nikola would cancel the Badger altogether. Then, Despite not canceling the project, the brand refunded all Badger deposits. Get this. Even after all that, the bad news continues.

If you're up to date on Nikola you'll know that its founder, Trevor Milton, is currently in the middle of a criminal fraud trial. Recently, the jury was told that the Badger prototype was made using parts off the Ford F-150 Raptor. This comes after a report alleged that the Badger was a fraud, and that the company had exactly none of the tech it needed to build the truck.

Driving Front Angle Nikola
2021-2022 Ford F-150 Raptor Front Angle View CarBuzz

At one point, Nikola's founder even claimed that the Badger would dethrone the F-150. Per Bloomberg Law, the jury on Milton's trial was told the Badger was actually part Raptor before being shown 2020 texts between a Nikola employee, who was worried about the truck, and Milton. Former Nikola employee Brendan Babiarz told the jury that a badger prototype used F-150 parts in its construction during early development.

Babiarz led the truck's design team and created renders for the car. He said that engineers used these parts alongside those from an electric Nikola power sports vehicle to make the prototype. Babiarz also backed up the allegations with texts between himself and Milton. The man questioned Milton's move, and Milton called him "an idiot" for it.

Side View Nikola
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor Side View Ford

"It took me a little by surprise," Babiarz attested. "We were still developing, obviously, the trucks, and the timing was not adding up, so we did not have a definitive date." The former Nikola employee also went on to say he tried to talk Milton out of taking reservations for the Badger in June 2020. If true, Babiarz would have been right, as Nikola refunded deposits just months later.

Reservations were canceled on the heels of a new MOU (Memorandum of Understanding)- a loose non-binding agreement that two companies will work together on future product- with GM. GM was, at that point, going to use its Ultium batteries and tech to help Nikola build the trucks. However, GM said it wouldn't build them, only that it would supply the parts. In hindsight, this is likely the reason Nikola refunded deposits, having realized it may not be able to build the trucks without GM.

Rear Angle View Nikola
2021-2022 Ford F-150 Raptor Rear Angle View CarBuzz

Babiarz had this to say: "I told Trevor on Thursday we are at least 6-8 weeks from any tooling starting," Babiarz texted project lead, Michael Erickson. "I know," Erickson responded. "Haha Trevor doesn't let facts or details get in the way of a good story."

Babiarz replied, referencing the brand's 2020 IPO. "Yeah I guess I was hoping the going public part would make him more methodical and careful but guess not ha." "Ha me too," Erickson replied. "Guess he's over it already and needs his next fix." If Milton is convicted on securities and wire fraud charges, he could serve up to 25 years in prison.

Front Angle View Nikola
2023 Ford F-150 Raptor Front View Driving Ford
Source Credits: Bloomberg Law

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