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Hydrogen & Electric Truck Startup Nikola Motor Co Debuts on the Nasdaq After Merger with VectoIQ

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【Summary】Hydrogen fuel cell truck startup Nikola Motor Company has completed its previously announced reverse merger with VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. As part of the reverse merger, Nikola Motor Company​ becomes a publicly traded company. The listing on the NASDAQ could value Nikola Motors around $11 billion, as its looks to compete with Tesla and others to dominate zero emissions long-haul truck segment.

Eric Walz    Jun 04, 2020 3:15 PM PT
Hydrogen & Electric Truck Startup Nikola Motor Co Debuts on the Nasdaq After Merger with VectoIQ
Nikola Motor Company is developing hydrogen fuel cell and battery-powered electric trucks.

Hydrogen fuel cell truck startup Nikola Motor Company has completed its previously announced reverse merger with VectoIQ Acquisition Corp. The deal was approved on June 2, 2020 by VectoIQ stockholders. 

As part of the reverse merger, Nikola Motor Company becomes a publicly traded company. Shares of the new company will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol "NKLA." The listing on the NASDAQ could value Nikola Motors around $11 billion, as its looks to compete with Tesla to dominate zero emissions long-haul truck segment.

New York-based VectoIQ is a publicly-traded "blank check" acquisition company focused on startups developing technologies such as autonomous vehicles, smart mobility and electrification. VectoIQ acquired a stake in Nikola and is financially supporting the young startup, so it can expand its operations and fund the construction of Nikola's truck factory in Arizona.

As part of the deal, shares of VectoIQ, which previously traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol "VTIQ", will convert into Nikola stock.

Not since electric automaker Tesla went public in June 2010 has a U.S.-based electric vehicle startup has attracted so much attention as Nikola. The company is viewed by many as having the potential to disrupt the trucking industry with its innovative hydrogen powered and battery electric trucks, the same way Tesla did to the auto industry when the Model S was introduced in 2012.

Stephen Girsky, CEO of VectoIQ Acquisition Corp said in a statement: "The VectoIQ team and I are proud to support Nikola in its transition to a public company. It's an exciting time to be in the zero-emissions transportation space and Nikola is at the forefront of this technology. I look forward to continuing to support the company as a member of the Board, and helping to make Nikola's vision of a cleaner world a reality."

The proceeds of the deal will help Nikola accelerate its both its hydrogen and battery-electric truck production, supporting Nikola's goal to become a world leader in zero-emissions transportation. It will also help fund the building out Nikola's nationwide network of hydrogen filling stations for the hydrogen truck fleets. 

Nikola plans to break ground soon on its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Coolidge, Arizona. Nikola Corporation is headquartered nearby in Phoenix, Arizona. The company was founded in 2015.

Nikola has received a flood of orders for its Nikola One and Two hydrogen-powered trucks. The Nikola hydrogen-powered trucks produce up to 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 ft-lbs of torque with a 500 to 750 miles range. The trucks are designed for long-haul freight operations.

Last year at an unveiling event called "Nikola World 2019", company's founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton called the Nikola Two "the most advanced commercial truck the world has ever seen."

Nikola is also developing a smaller truck for the European market called the Nikola Tre

In February, Nikola announced that IVECO and FPT Industrial, the commercial vehicle and powertrain brands of CNH Industrial N.V., will manufacture the Tre through their European joint venture. The Nikola TRE will be built in Ulm, Germany, at the IVECO manufacturing facility.

As part of the deal, CNH Industrial took a $250 million stake in Nikola as the lead Series D investor. 

Nikola's hydrogen fuel cell trucks work by combining hydrogen in a fuel cell to produce electricity. The electricity generated is then used to power the trucks' electric powertrain. The fuel cell trucks produce zero emissions and the only byproduct is water.

Hydrogen powered trucks are viewed as a more practical solution for long haul freight over batteries. A Class-8 truck would require heavy and expensive lithium ion batteries in order to travel over 500 miles per charge. The batteries alone would add thousands of pounds of additional weight that otherwise might be used for cargo.

In addition, charging would take significantly more time than refilling with hydrogen, which takes around 20 minutes in the Nikola hydrogen powered trucks.

"Nikola is thrilled to complete the Nasdaq listing and be part of the ESG investment world. This is a significant endorsement in fuel-cell and battery-electric technology. Since Nikola launched its first fuel-cell semi-truck, you have seen the world rally behind hydrogen and follow our lead. What was once considered the fuel of the future is now accepted as today's solution," said Milton. 

The company expects to generate revenue by 2021 with the roll out of its Nikola Tre Class 8 truck. That launch will be followed by the Nikola Two Class 8 FCEV (fuel cell EV) starting in 2023. The build out of hydrogen fueling stations will serve Nikola customers' fleets, such as Anheuser-Busch.

Nikola told Forbes last year that it secured $14 billion in commercial truck leases from Anheuser Busch and U.S. Express, each of which is a seven-year lease worth about $1 million. Anheuser-Busch placed an order for up to 800 Nikola Trucks in 2018. Nikola said the volume of orders received for the Nikola One and Two were so high that the company had to stop taking orders. 

"We're sold out for eight years of production," Milton told Forbes at the time.

"With our Nikola IVECO joint venture and over $10 billion in pre-order reservations, Nikola is positioned to be a wonderful story of how one company can literally change the world." said Milton.

Nikola is also working on a pickup truck with both a fuel cell and battery power named the Badger. The Badger pickup, which was revealed in February, can operate on a combination of fuel cell and electrical power, or battery only at any given time. The truck uses advanced software for the blending of batteries and fuel-cell for power. The Nikola Badger will compete with the best selling truck in the U.S., the Ford F-150.

Nikola's shares were hovering around $33.40 in after hours trading on the NASDAQ Thursday, down about 1% from the opening price.

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