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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