Nikola founder Trevor Milton overstated the functionality of the Nikola One prototype, report says

The vehicle shown to the public in 2016 lacked drivetrain components among other things, according to a recent report.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

This thing was maybe less functional than Trevor Milton made it out to be.


Hydrogen-powered heavy truck startup Nikola is worth a borderline insane amount of money these days for some reason, despite never having produced something that people can actually buy. Beyond that, the company's CEO, Trevor Milton, has been increasingly bullish on Twitter about the future of his company.

This was just about the most movement that the Nikola One was capable of, according to a Bloomberg report.


None of that should be terribly surprising at this point, nor should the phenomenon of startup founders over-hyping their products. Still, there's a difference between over-hyping and outright deceiving people, and according to a report published Wednesday by Bloomberg, it would seem that Milton falls into the latter category. 

The article alleges that Nikola's Nikola One hydrogen fuel-cell truck that was debuted back in 2016 and which Milton suggested was able to drive under its own power, was in fact, not. According to Bloomberg's sources, the truck didn't even have a fuel cell in it. Milton even confirmed that the prototype never drove under its own power.

That the truck was inoperable wouldn't have been a big deal -- plenty of concepts aren't functional beyond some lights and seats, some not even that much. However, based on Milton's statements, it would seem to us that he was dishonest and that now, some three-and-a-half years later, he's profiting on that dishonesty to the tune of $7.8 billion.

Nikola has originally planned to have its Nikola One trucks in customer's hands as of 2020, but it would seem that the company was somewhat overzealous about that as well. Again, this isn't atypical -- remember the $35,000 ? -- but it does serve to highlight the bizarre position in which the company finds itself, with a market capitalization of $22 billion and no product or plans for revenue for 2020.

How does Nikola's CEO feel about all this? Well, much as with the CEO of that other electric vehicle maker, one only needs to look as far as Twitter.

So yeah, he's pretty pissed despite having personally confirmed all the more damning facts. His calls for the full and unedited version of the interview to be posted are interesting. Still, the damage is likely already done, and we wouldn't be surprised if this had an effect on Nikola's business going forward.

Nikola's vehicles promise quite a bit

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