Nikola CEO Mark Russell to Retire Jan. 1

Michael Lohscheller to Take Top Post
Russell (left) and Lohscheller. (Nikola Corp. via PR Newswire)

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Truck manufacturer Nikola Corp. has announced a leadership change that places a 20-year automotive industry veteran at its helm.

The Phoenix-based maker of zero-emission trucks on Aug. 10 announced that Nikola Motor President Michael Lohscheller is being elevated to the same position at the corporate level, effective immediately. Current President and CEO Mark Russell plans to retire Jan. 1. He’ll retain the CEO post until then, but hand it off to Lohscheller upon stepping down.

Russell, who took over in June 2020 after Nikola founder Trevor Milton resigned amid a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and subsequent federal charges, will remain a member of the board of directors.

Lohscheller, who joined Nikola in February, has worked for Mitsubishi Motors Europe, Volkswagen Group of America and served as CEO of Opel Automotive.


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“I am honored and excited to succeed Mark as Nikola’s next CEO as we advance our journey as a pioneer in zero-emission transportation and infrastructure solutions,” Lohscheller said. “We have a robust business model, a talented global team, leading electric vehicle technology and energy solutions. We are well-positioned to capitalize on the growth opportunities ahead of us and accelerate our strategic initiatives.”

Nikola Board Chairman Steve Girsky said, “In his six months since joining our company, Michael has continued to bring an increased sense of urgency, high level of accountability, improved lines of communication and accelerated decision-making to Nikola Motor. We believe that same standard of excellence and operational and commercial expertise will benefit the company’s vehicle and energy infrastructure vision.”

He added that Lohscheller, “has deep experience as a seasoned executive and as a highly knowledgeable business operator.”

Russell said, “Being part of Nikola has been the highlight of my career. I could not be prouder of this team and everything we have accomplished and the milestones we have achieved so far.” He is credited with stabilizing Nikola after Milton’s departure, shepherding the company as it launched series production of its trucks, launched construction on its Coolidge, Ariz., production facility and streamlined its product plan.

Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Co.


“Mark’s many contributions to Nikola have been drivers of the company’s progress since 2019,” Girsky said. “On behalf of our board and management team, we want to thank Mark for navigating Nikola through a critical chapter and playing a key role in positioning us for our next phase of growth.”

Milton was indicted last year and accused of misleading investors. He has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and is awaiting trial. The company has paid a $125 million penalty to the SEC for deceiving investors.

It has so far produced 50 Nikola Tre BEVs at the Coolidge factory, and said it remains on track to deliver between 300 and 500 of the trucks by the end of 2022.

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