EV Startup Nikola Begins Production of Electric Semi Truck

by Suzanne Halliburton
Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

It looks like Nikola is beating Tesla to the market with its new battery-powered electric Tre semi truck.

Nikola, a start-up, announced Wednesday that it began production of the battery-powered Tre semi this week at its plant in Coolidge, Arizona. Deliveries of the truck should begin sometime in the second quarter.

The 4-1-1 On the Nikola Electric Semi Truck

  • Production of the battery-powered electric Tre started Monday at Arizona plant.
  • This semi will be capable of up to a 350-mile route. Trucks will hit the market in the second quarter.
  • By the end of next year, Nikola will start delivery of the Tre with a hydrogen fuel cell. These semis can run for up to 500 miles.
  • The company plans “next generation” fuel cells for 2025. These trucks can run for 900 miles.

CNBC reported that the battery version of the electric Tre can run for shorter routes of up to 350 miles. The company expects to deliver between 300 and 500 of the semis this year. The company plans a higher level of production next year.

Nikola’s next big project is the production of a battery-electric Tre with a hydrogen fuel cell. This will allow the truck to drive up to 500 miles before a recharge. Delivery of these trucks is expected by the end of next year. Then, by 2025, the company wants its trucks to possess a “next-generation” fuel cell that will allow the semis to travel up to 900 miles.

Earlier this week, Nikola teased the new semis on its social media accounts. One tweet said: “Over the next two days, industry analysts and investors will be fully immersed in all things Nikola as they get to know the trucks, our business plan, and the team. Want to tune in? A livestream and archived webcast will be made available for both days.”

Scandal with Nikola CEO Rocked Company in 2020-21

A scandal involving Nikola’s now-former CEO threatened to knock the company off track. Back in December, the company agreed to pay a fine of $125 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle claims it misled investors. Specifically, the SEC said that Trevor Milton, the company founder and former CEO, made claims about the trucks that weren’t true.

The SEC said: “Before Nikola had produced a single commercial product or had any revenues from truck or hydrogen fuel sales, Milton embarked on a public relations campaign aimed at inflating and maintaining Nikola’s stock price. Milton misled investors about, among other things, Nikola’s technological advancements, in-house production capabilities, reservation book, and financial outlook.”

However, in paying the fine, Nikola did not have to admit wrongdoing. Separately, a federal grand jury indicted Milton on three counts of fraud last summer. He pleaded not guilty and guaranteed his $100 million bond for his release from jail. The company cut ties with Milton. And officials said it has settled all claims related to Milton and what he said before the company’s initial public offering.