Cars and Drivers

Nikola Revs Its Electric Engines in Debut as a Public Company

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Most high profile companies come public via initial public offerings, but the “IPO model” is not the only way a company can move from being a private company to a fully reporting public company. The use of a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) is really a reverse merger where a company comes public with a “blank check” to find a company that wants to come public.

Some SPAC’s have been very successful and high profile stocks, but the track record of SPACs and blank check companies has seen its share of ups and downs over time. One of the upside cases was Nikola, which has now closed its merger with VectoIQ Acquisition Corporation. The new company is Nikola Corporation (NASDAQ: NKLS).

Thursday’s news was that Nikola raised over $700 million through the business combination and through a private offering that included Fidelity Management & Research, ValueAct Spring Fund and P. Schoenfeld Asset Management. The capital raise is expected to accelerate production of Nikola’s battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles.

Some claims are large when companies come public, and Nikola showed that it had pre-orders representing over $10 billion in potential revenue. That portion of the release saying “potential” may leave some room for interpretation and definitely needs some research. The recession has been a time where demand has turned south for even electric vehicles.

Nikola’s hydrogen network is anticipated to cover North America and is also set to become the largest hydrogen network in the world if successful. Can it keep up, replace, or work alongside the declining gas stations in America? Nikola also added Stephen Girsky, current CEO of VectoIQ and former Vice Chairman of General Motors Corporation, to the company’s Board of Directors.

As for the fuel-cell and battery-electric technology, Nikola’s Founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton noted that the $10 billion figure is covering pre-order reservations. This is a zero-emissions transportation player that now expects to be generating revenues by 2021 along with its upcoming roll out of the Nikola Tre Class 8 battery-electric vehicle. The company then expects to roll out the Nikola Two Class 8 fuel cell electric vehicle starting in 2023. The build-out of hydrogen fueling stations will also serve Nikola customers’ fleets, such as Anheuser-Busch.

To be frank, the lineup of vehicles that the company has makes it look a lot like “The Tesla of Trucks.” Its own truck that will be available for consumers looks much more like a modern era truck rather than a Minecraft or old Atari version of a truck from the future.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Nikola was last seen trading at $34.45 on Thursday, with a trading range of $31.37 to $38.86.

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