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October 21, 2020 11:00 AM, EDT

GM ‘Going Forward’ With Nikola Partnership Talks on Trucks

Signage is displayed out the Nikola headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz.Signage is displayed out the Nikola headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. (Ash Ponders/Bloomberg News)

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General Motors Co. is moving ahead in its talks with startup Nikola Corp. over a proposed partnership to make electric and fuel cell powered trucks, a senior executive at the Detroit automaker said.

GM and Nikola announced a tentative agreement in September but have yet to come to final terms. Nikola’s stock price has plunged in the wake of allegations of deception by a short seller, raising questions from investors about GM’s due diligence and commitment to a deal.

“Right now we are going forward,” Mark Reuss, GM’s president, said in a Bloomberg TV interview taped Oct. 16. In what he called “the exciting piece” of those discussions, Reuss said GM plans to share hydrogen-fuel-cell technology developed with Honda Motor Co. with Nikola for use in both a pickup and big-rig trucks.

 

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“They are taking what I believe is the best fuel cell in the world — with our fuel cell that is made in our joint venture with Honda right here in Michigan ­ and taking that fuel cell and looking at deploying it in the heavy-duty transport market with the large trucks — the Class 7 and 8s — and also in the light-duty Badger truck,” he said.

The proposed deal would give GM an 11% stake in Nikola and allow the startup to use its hydrogen-fuel-cell technology. GM also said it plans to manufacture the Badger pickup truck for Nikola, which initially would be battery-electric and eventually fuel-cell powered.

Reuss said the Badger will have a different powertrain from the one GM will use in its new Hummer pickup, which will run on the Ultium battery-pack system the Detroit automaker co-developed with LG Chem Ltd.

“We won’t sell and market that truck. That is what Nikola is doing,” Reuss said. “It’s still a fuel-cell electric truck but quite different from what we are offering on our Ultium packs on the pure electric Hummer.”

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