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Nikola eyes Tesla's luster as market value eclipses some major automakers

The startup focused on bringing electric and fuel-cell semi trucks to market has posted $0 in revenue, but investors don't seem to mind.

Nikola Tre
The Tre is all-electric and should arrive in Europe next year.

If there's a simple thing we can take away from investors in startup carmakers with grand plans, they believe in the future that executives are painting. While Tesla's long been the poster child for stratospheric market value despite modest profits, electric truckmaker Nikola knocked on Wall Street's door this week with a huge number.

As Automotive News points out, Nikola's market value reached $34 billion this week after its debut on the New York Stock Exchange last week. The incredible value, which was higher than Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, comes with a big caveat. The startup hasn't yet posted a single dollar in revenue. As of this writing, Nikola is valued at just under $25 billion, still greater than some major automakers such as Hyundai.

In fact, Nikola's grand plans are even lengthier than we're used to from Tesla. The massive plant Nikola plans to build in Arizona won't be fully utilized until near the end of this decade, the company has previously said. The company did announce a notable new hire on Wednesday in Mark Duchesne. The executive will become Nikola's global head of manufacturing after he spent five years at Tesla and 22 years at Toyota.

While the hydrogen-fueled trucks remain in the pipeline, the company does have one electric semi nearly ready for launch in the Tre. It should hit European roads next year. Two hydrogen fuel cell-powered models will arrive in 2023 and Nikola plans to build out its own infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations, of which there are currently very few.

Aside from the semi trucks, Nikola also decided to wade into the pickup truck segment with the Badger. CEO Trevor Milton announced reservations would open later this month and promised a nearly production-ready pickup when we see the vehicle later this year. The truck will be either a purely electric vehicle or combine a battery and a fuel cell powertrain.

With all these grand plans moving ahead, Nikola forecasts revenue in 2023 as its semis begin trickling into the world. Today, the company says it has 14,000 reservations for its fuel-cell semi trucks, which it needs to still transform into actual preorders.

Tesla has its own semi truck, the Semi, which is reportedly ready for "volume production" and scheduled for launch next year.

Now playing: Watch this: Inside the Nikola One hydrogen-electric semi-truck