Nikola In Pilot Testing With Walmart, SAIA As Founder Awaits Sentencing In Fraud Case

November 7, 2022

By Terri Jo Neff |

Just weeks after its founder was convicted of federal fraud charges, Phoenix-based Nikola Corp. (NKLA) announced Third Quarter 2022 financial results showing higher than expected revenues and a narrower than expected quarterly loss.

On Thursday, Nikola Corp. reported revenues of $24.2 million, GAAP net loss per share of $0.54, and non-GAAP net loss per share of $0.28. The company also revealed it produced 75 heavy-duty Nikola Tre battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) at its plant in Coolidge, outpacing the 50 BEVs which came off the assembly line last quarter.  

Nikola also announced pilot testing of its Tre BEVs is underway with Walmart and SAIA, and that 63 of its trucks have been delivered to dealers.

“During the third quarter we continued to produce and deliver Nikola Tre BEVs to dealers and customers,” said new Nikola President, Michael Lohscheller. “We also made significant advancements in developing our energy business, announcing our intent to develop access of up to 300 metric-tons per day of hydrogen and up to 60 stations by 2026, and our collaboration with E.ON in Europe.”

Founded in late 2014 by Trevor Milton, Nikola seeks to transform the transportation industry by designing and manufacturing zero-emission BEVs  and hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The company is also a leader in EV drivetrains, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and hydrogen station infrastructure.

As AZ Free News previously reported, Milton was stripped of any role in the company in 2020 following an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission into allegations Milton repeatedly lied to investors, prospective investors, and the public about Nikola’s research and development progress as well as sales contracts in an effort to increase the company’s share price.

Then-CEO Mark Russell sought to move Nikola forward from the scandal, agreeing the company would pay a $125 million civil penalty to the SEC. Russell retired this summer, putting Nikola in the hands of Lohscheller, who previously served as CFO for several top automakers, including Mitsubishi Motors, Volkswagen Group USA, and German-based Opel/Vauxhall. Lohscheller was promoted in 2017 as CEO of Opel, where he helped plan the company’s move toward being an electric-only brand by the end of this decade.

Meanwhile, company officials fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York which took Milton to trial Sept. 12 on four fraud charges.  The nearly month-long trial ended with the jury deliberating for less than seven hours before convicting Milton of two counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud.

A not-guilty verdict was handed down on another count of securities fraud.

Milton, who avoided pretrial detention by posting a $100 million bond, was granted permission by a federal judge to remain out of custody his until Jan. 27, 2023, sentencing. He is facing up to 20 years in prison, with prosecutors calling for a “significant” prison term in light of numerous warnings to Milton about his misrepresentations.

Nikola has recently announced several highpoints, including:

  • Acquiring land in Buckeye for the construction of a hydrogen production hub with project partners. The company is working through zoning and permitting processes and has already ordered some long lead-time equipment;
  • A multi-year purchase order for 100 Tre BEVs by Zeem Solutions, which specializes in fleet truck leasing;
  • A stock-only purchase of California-based Romeo Power, which is expected to result in a large savings for Nikola on battery-pack costs;
  • An intent to develop access of up to 300 metric-tons per day of hydrogen and up to 60 dispensing stations by 2026. The company sees potential benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act.

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