Nikola Hires GM Veteran Steve Girsky as CEO

Michael Lohscheller Ran Troubled EV Maker for Less Than a Year
Steve Girsky
Steve Girsky takes over as CEO immediately. (Nikola Corp.)

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Nikola Corp. is tapping a former General Motors Co. vice chairman to serve as its CEO, replacing the current CEO after less than a year of running the electric truck maker.

Steve Girsky will take over as CEO of the troubled manufacturer that he helped take public three years ago and for which he has served as chairman for much of that time. He replaces Michael Lohscheller, effective immediately, the company said Aug. 4 in a statement.

The move comes after Nikola has scaled back its ambitions multiple times amid scandals, executive changes and supply chain constraints. The stock fell 9% in premarket trading to $3.09 as of 9:09 a.m. in New York.

Lohscheller is stepping down “due to a family health matter,” Nikola said. He’ll depart the board at the end of the month and will remain in an advisory capacity through September.

Nikola announced in August of last year that Lohscheller, who had joined the company earlier that year as president, would also take over as CEO, which he did as of November. He was brought in by Girsky along with many other GM veterans to help Nikola make the transition from startup to a mass producer of trucks.

Girsky, who is perhaps best known for his role helping GM after bankruptcy, was head of the special purpose acquisition company that took Nikola public via a reverse merger in 2020. The GM veteran also brokered a deal giving the Detroit automaker an 11% stake in Nikola as part of a subsequently canceled strategic partnership.

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The past quarter was another roller coaster for the Phoenix-based company. Its shares outpaced the market during the three-month stretch even as its ousted founder and former chairman Trevor Milton — who awaits sentencing after being convicted of securities fraud — called for leadership changes.

The company also faced a fire at its headquarters in June that affected several parked big rigs.

Girsky will be replaced as chairman of Nikola’s board by Steve Shindler, but he will remain a member of it. Shindler is also an alumni of the blank-check company VectoIQ, having served as its chief financial officer prior to that SPAC’s role in taking Nikola public. He’s been on Nikola’s board since October 2020.

The stock traded below $1 a share for most of April and May, raising threats of delisting. While shares rebounded to more than $3 recently, they are still far below a closing peak of almost $80 in mid-2020.

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