Oct 21, 2020
GM 'going forward' with Nikola partnership talks on pickup, semi
General Motors Co. is moving ahead in its talks with startup Nikola Corp. over a proposed partnership to make electric and fuel-cell-powered trucks, a senior executive at the Detroit automaker said.
GM and Nikola announced a tentative agreement last month but have yet to come to final terms. Nikola’s stock price has plunged in the wake of allegations of deception by a short seller, raising questions from investors about GM’s due diligence and commitment to a deal.
“Right now we are going forward,” Mark Reuss, GM’s president, said in a Bloomberg TV interview taped Oct. 16. In what he called “the exciting piece” of those discussions, Reuss said GM plans to share hydrogen-fuel-cell technology developed with Honda Motor Co. with Nikola for use in both a pickup and big-rig trucks.
“They are taking what I believe is the best fuel cell in the world -- with our fuel cell that is made in our joint venture with Honda right here in Michigan -- and taking that fuel cell and looking at deploying it in the heavy-duty transport market with the large trucks -- the Class 7 and 8s -- and also in the light-duty Badger truck,” he said.
Nikola shares pared a gain of as much as 8.4 per cent to trade up three per cent to US$21.35 as of 9:46 a.m. in New York.
The proposed deal would give GM an 11 per cent stake in Nikola and allow the startup to use its hydrogen-fuel-cell technology. GM also said it plans to manufacture the Badger pickup truck for Nikola, which initially would be battery-electric and eventually fuel-cell powered.
Reuss said the Badger will have a different powertrain from the one GM will use in its new Hummer pickup, which will run on the Ultium battery-pack system the Detroit automaker co-developed with LG Chem Ltd.
“We won’t sell and market that truck. That is what Nikola is doing,” Reuss said. “It’s still a fuel-cell electric truck but quite different from what we are offering on our Ultium packs on the pure electric Hummer.”