Nikola Hires GM, Dell Veteran Mary Chan as COO
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Class 8 truck maker Nikola Corp. continued to beef up its leadership team around new CEO Steve Girsky on Sept. 18, as he appointed fellow General Motors alum Mary Chan as chief operating officer effective Oct. 9.
Chan will lead the company’s engineering, program, product, supply chain and manufacturing teams. Girsky wants to streamline decision-making processes at Nikola and sees Chan as part of the solution, the company said.
“I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Mary for over a decade, and I cannot think of a more qualified individual to assume the role of COO at Nikola,” said Girsky.
“Mary brings a solid understanding of business, combined with extensive experience in technology and transportation, spanning both engineering and management. Her expertise will be a tremendous asset to the Nikola team,” he added.
Previously, Chan was a managing partner at VectoIQ, where she was part of the team involved in Nikola’s initial public offering, as was Girsky. Chan also worked for U.S. automaking giant GM as president of its global connected consumer group. In addition, she held executive positions at Dell Inc., Alcatel-Lucent and Lucent Technologies.
Nikola’s share price rose more than 30% in the hours after Chan’s appointment, extending a run-up that started Sept. 14 after Girsky said the first deliveries of Nikola’s hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered Class 8 truck are scheduled to begin as early as late September.
Production of the Tre fuel cell electric vehicle began July 31 at Nikola’s Coolidge, Ariz.-based manufacturing plant. Girsky also said Sept. 13 production and delivery of the FCEV would be unaffected by an ongoing investigation of coolant leak-related fires involving Nikola’s battery-electric trucks. He said the hydrogen-powered truck’s batteries were manufactured by a different supplier.
Shares in Nikola were trading above $1.50 as Sept. 18 trading ended, having begun Sept. 14 valued around 90 cents.
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Chan’s appointment follows John Vesco joining Nikola’s board of directors Aug. 31. Vesco is a trucking industry veteran whose resume includes stints as a senior executive at Hub Group and Schneider National.
Schneider ranks No. 8 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America, while Hub Group ranks No. 11.
“With his wide-ranging expertise in creating strategic customer relationships, asset management and navigating complex supply chain models, John brings a wealth of knowledge that I am confident will enrich our vision moving forward,” said Steve Shindler, chairman of Nikola’s board. “We look forward to leveraging his insights as we execute our business plan.”
Part of that business plan is expanding North American sales after a retrenchment from Europe in May.
On Sept. 15, Nikola said its dealer network was expanding to Canada for the first time. Toronto-based ITD Industries, a trailer manufacturer, will offer truck sales and service coverage, the Phoenix-based company said.
“Bringing ITD on board as our first Canadian dealer is an exciting move for Nikola. Canada’s zero-emission, vehicle-friendly environment for Class 8 trucks, fueled by attractive incentives and its ambitious carbon reduction goals, makes it a strategic market for the future of transportation,” said Girsky.
Canada’s Incentives for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles Program offers up to C$200,000 (over $148,000) in incentives toward the purchase or lease of Nikola’s Tre FCEV and up to C$150,000 for a Nikola BET, although sales of the latter are halted because of the fires. Further subsidies are available at the provincial level too.
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