Nikola Motors has been making a lot of headlines lately. After their IPO last week, the stock price has risen to a level that has seen its market capitalization rise higher than legacy automaker Ford.
But one headline Nikola founder Trevor Milton wasn’t hoping to make was one from Bloomberg yesterday.
When the Nikola One Semi truck was unveiled in 2016, Milton stood on stage and proclaimed “this thing fully functions and works,” later adding it was not a “pusher”, a term used in the industry to describe prototype vehicles that are inoperable.
In a detailed interview with Bloomberg, Milton admitted that key parts of the vehicle were not present in the prototype, and that it was never driven under its own power. Instead, he says they were left out for safety reasons.
Other sources familiar with the matter that also spoke to Bloomberg said the truck didn’t have gears, the motor was missing, and there was no hydrogen fuel cell on board.
On that final point, Milton again admits there was no fuel cell in the truck, but also says he never made the claim that he did. This is despite the side of the truck saying “H2 Zero Emission Hydrogen Electric”.
Following the publication of the interview, Milton took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with it. In his lengthly tirade, he claims statements had been taken out of context and later that evening, threatened a lawsuit, posting a letter that was allegedly sent to Bloomberg.
This just got sent to Bloomberg by our legal team. I wont stand for lies from Journalists when they knowingly deceive to harm others – It hurts all journalists. Wait until the full recorded interview comes out and it will expose Ed Ludlow for who he is. pic.twitter.com/2bbyH84AEc
— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) June 18, 2020
While it is certainly possible that statements were taken out of context, there were some that based on Milton’s own tweets made after the interview were published, appear to be truthful.
Of the claim that the gears and the motors were missing from the truck, the CEO says they weren’t missing, they were “on the table” for people to see, instead of being in the truck.
Of the claim the truck was inoperable, Milton again admits that to be true, saying it wasn’t driven because “it wasnt safe”, and that with enough testing, it would have been drivable.
was recorded. People will see you for the deceiver you are. Everyone at the event knew we didn't drive it because it wasnt safe, although it could be driven if we wanted to with safety and time put into it without the fuel cell. The truck built could have been driven w/ testing
— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) June 17, 2020
This will be an interesting story to follow if Nikola Motors follows through with their threat of a lawsuit, and if Bloomberg releases the recording of the interview.
Either way Milton’s own statements on Twitter after the fact seem to corroborate most of the article. Here’s the full video from the unveiling event three years ago.