As its deal with General Motors remains in limbo, Nikola Motors executives this week talked up reverting to a "base plan," and dropping the Badger electric pickup truck GM was to help launch.
Nikola first discussed building hydrogen fuel-cell semi trucks—and a network of hydrogen stations for them—before unveiling the Badger, a battery-electric truck with what is essentially a fuel-cell range extender.
In a deal announced last month, GM was to build the Badger and supply fuel-cell tech, in exchange for a stake in Nikola and other financial benefits. That deal was scheduled to close by September 30, but negotiations are still ongoing, Nikola CEO Mark Russell said in an interview with Bloomberg Thursday, adding that the company is prepared to go it alone.
"We have the ability and we have a base plan for doing it ourselves," Russell said.
Nikola had planned to rely heavily on partners to manufacture its vehicles, but that's been complicated by accusations in a short-seller's report last month that former CEO Trevor Milton (who has since stepped down) made fraudulent claims about Nikola's technology. The company and Milton have denied those accusations.
In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Russell also downplayed the importance of the Badger, which is actually the model that most stoked investors and company interest. The Badger was first shown as a series of renderings on Twitter by Milton to troll Tesla CEO Elon Musk after the Cybertruck unveiling, and it likely benefited from some of the hype surrounding the Tesla electric truck.
"Our core business plan since before we became publicly listed always focused on heavy trucks and hydrogen infrastructure," Russell said.
Nikola canceled the event at which the Badger was due to be introduced, although the company said that was due to coronavirus-related restrictions on large gatherings in Arizona, where the event was to be held.
In July, Nikola broke ground on an Arizona facility that is due to assemble commercial fuel-cell trucks. The first Nikola trucks will be built by truck maker IVECO in Germany, however—starting with battery-electric versions.
The fuel-cell trucks to follow would be dependent on Nikola's proposed hydrogen network—which could prove to be the most expensive and complicated portion of Nikola's plan.