Nikola continues dramatic turnaround with EV battery cell production plans

Nikola Motor Corp. is continuing its dramatic turnaround just eleven months after its founder and CEO was indicted on three counts of fraud. The company announced plans to manufacture its own battery cells by 2024, but only if market conditions and sourcing was openly available to Nikola, CFO Kim Brady said.

“If in-sourcing opportunity is available to us, and if we decide to explore that, that will likely be in 2024,” Brady said at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference today. The company’s production plans for battery cells would increase volume and reduce costs, a common struggle of new automotive startups. The option will “ultimately” need to provide those advantages for Nikola. Reuters reported the story initially.

To start, it is a pretty incredible turnaround from where Nikola was twelve months ago. Last June, Milton was no longer at the helm and hadn’t been for several months. Nikola stated in February 2021 that Milton misled investors with lies and even fabricated some of the capabilities of its all-electric semi-truck, the Nikola Tre. Nikola was already under fire after a report from Hindenburg Research made various claims about the company’s foggy past. It eventually led to Milton stepping down.

In July, Milton surrendered to authorities and the Southern District of New York indicted him on three fraud counts. Since then, Nikola has attempted to put the past behind them, moving on from its past and putting all developments on the shoulders of new CEO Mark Russell, who has done nothing but put the company on the right path, it seems.

Nikola founder Trevor Milton indicted on three counts of fraud

Nikola announced that it had started production of the Tre in March and started deliveries in late April.

“We began production of the Tre BEV on March 21 here in Coolidge and today we’re celebrating this milestone and the initial shipments of trucks to our customers,” company CEO Mark Russell said. “In 2022, we’re moving forward with every aspect of our business.  Next year, fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV) are planned to be added to the manufacturing mix. We are focused on delivering vehicles and generating revenue.”

With ramping vehicle manufacturing plans and a product line that consists of heavy-duty EVs, Nikola’s products are already going to cost a substantial amount. The excessive number of cells a vehicle of this size needs in order to operate effectively makes ramping production difficult. Tesla has delayed its Semi on numerous occasions, citing battery cell shortages. Tesla also builds its own cells, including the new 4680 battery.

Nikola’s plans currently are to produce between 300 and 500 Tre units this year, but supply chain issues are a concern, Brady said

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