A bombshell report was released last week by Hindenburg Research, alleging Nikola Motors was an “intricate fraud” and used lies and deception to trick investors into giving up their hard-earned money.
After the report was released, Nikola founder and executive chairman Trevor Milton quickly went to social media, claiming the report was a “hit job”, and promised to release a rebuttal to address all the claims later that day.
Cowards run, leaders stay and fight for integrity. Hindenburg is only making people love us more for trying to destroy us. It will take the rest of the day to address the one sided false claims, but I will put out a detail report to address it. In the meantime, troll on
— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) September 10, 2020
That deadline came and went, with Milton later stating his company had retained legal counsel to combat the report, and after discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would release their rebuttal in the coming days.
That day was today, as the company posted their rather weak response to their website earlier this morning.
One of the biggest claims in the Hindenburg report was that Nikola had faked the video of the Nikola One driving under its power in a video released in 2018. Instead, Hindenburg said the truck was simply rolled down a hill in neutral, even sending an investigator to the exact location to corroborate their beliefs.
In their response, Nikola doesn’t call the claim a lie, instead saying they never said it was driving under its own propulsion system, simply referring to it as “in motion”. They also tried to shift the blame to the third party they hired to film the commercial.
“Hindenburg seeks to portray Nikola as misrepresenting the capabilities of the Nikola One prototype in a 2017 video produced by a third party, as “simply filmed rolling down a big hill.” Nikola never stated its truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video, although the truck was designed to do just that (as described in previous point). The truck was showcased and filmed by a third party for a commercial. Nikola described this third-party video on the Company’s social media as “In Motion.” It was never described as “under its own propulsion” or “powertrain driven.”“
Another big claim in the initial report was that the Nikola One prototype unveiled in 2017 was a “pusher” and not a functioning truck as stated by Milton multiple times at the event. Video of the event clearly shows Milton proclaiming the truck was fully functional, that it “wasn’t a pusher,” and that chains were attached to it so someone wouldn’t accidentally drive it off the stage.
In their response Nikola again skirts around the issue and pivots to a new definition for pusher – “a vehicle that was not designed to be moved by its own propulsion system.” They even go on to admit the Nikola One never actually moved under its own power.
“As Nikola pivoted to the next generation of trucks, it ultimately decided not to invest additional resources into completing the process to make the Nikola One drive on its own propulsion.“
The rest of the responses by Nikola are just as evasive and do little to clear the air as Milton said they would. Instead, they contain a series of half-truths and attempts to downplay the clear deception the company has been putting out for several years now.
You can read their full response on their website.