Electric trucking startup Nikola Short Cellar protects herself from allegations of fraud

Nicola Corp., the buzzy electric trucking company, is defending itself against fraudulent allegations that were made by short-selling firm Hindenburg Research. Just days after GM announced it was alleged that the startup had an 11 percent stake.

Nicola said the Hindenburg Research report is “false and maligned” and was “designed to manipulate the market negatively to provide misconceptions to investors and financially benefit short sellers, including Hindenburg.”

The startup said it has briefed the US Securities and Exchange Commission on the report and will cooperate with the agency about its “investigation”. (A SEC spokesperson declined to comment.) The Phoenix-based company also said it hired law firm Kirkland & Ellis to evaluate its options.

Hindenburg’s report, released on September 10, titled “How to sail the ocean of the ocean in partnership with the largest auto OEM in America” ​​- is a reference to the news that GM engineers and startups make batteries Was teaming up with Nicola to help me. Electric and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles. Hindenburg claims that Nicola engaged in “lies and deception” to show off his electric vehicle technology, including staging a video showing one of its trucks hovering over a hill.

“Our investigation of the site and text messages from a former employee reveal that the video was a detailed description,” Hindenburg writes, adding that “Nicola drove the truck to a hilltop on a remote section of road and the bus Roll it down. Pahad. “

In a statement on Monday, Nicola said the report contained “dozens” of inaccurate statements, and it outlined several examples. But the company is not disputed that it staged the video that appeared to show the truck functional.

“Nicola never stated that his truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video, although the truck was designed to do so (as described in the previous point),” the company says. “The truck was screened and filmed for a commercial by third parties. Nikola described this third-party video on the company’s social media as ‘In Motion’. It was not described as ‘under its own propulsion’ or ‘powered powertrain’.

The company said it eventually decided not to complete the vehicle and shift resources to another truck, called the Nikola Two. Nicola claims that a preproduction version of this truck, a “hydrogen-electric powered semi-truck for the medium and long haul trucking areas”, will be ready for testing in 2021.

This three-year-old video of the Nicola prototype is irrelevant, the company said, as short sellers are trying to use it for their core research. “The fact is, Nikola has genuine working hydrogen fuel cell powered semi-trucks.”

Founded in 2015, Nicola aims to make zero-emission large rigs using hydrogen fuel cell technology. Although many companies such as Tesla, Daimler, Freightliner, and other established players and startups are working on all-electric trucks, Nikola is one of the few hydrogen-driven big leaks.

It is not just the EV company that has controversial relations with a growing contingent of short sellers who have bet that the share price of a company will come down. Tesla has a thriving community of short sellers who congregate on Twitter, where they collaborate around the “cashtag” $ TSLAQ to try to identify fraudulent activity committed by the company and its CEO, Elon Musk.