Phoenix-based Nikola extended its German connection on Friday by announcing a planned joint venture with E.ON, a European utilities company.
Nikola Corp. (Nasdaq: NKLA) will work with Essen, Germany-based E.ON on a partnership aimed at decarbonizing heavy-duty trucking through the use of vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel.
Nikola is currently manufacturing battery electric vehicles and is developing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for future production.
The joint venture with E.ON is expected to be finalized by the end of the year and will feature the two companies developing projects together. Nikola and E.ON have signed a term sheet and are working toward a definitive agreement on the partnership.
Nikola shares are down about 50% year to date. Click here to follow the stock.
“Nikola has a deep understanding of transport demands and will continue to develop cost effective, fully sustainable solutions that involve our zero-emissions trucks and hydrogen infrastructure to our customers,” Nikola President Michael Lohscheller said in a statement. “This joint venture is a critical element in transitioning the transport sector and aligns with E.ON’s expertise in energy networks and customer solutions to lead the European transport sector.”
Lohscheller, a native of Germany, will replace Mark Russell as Nikola’s new CEO on Jan. 1, 2023.
Nikola is already working in Germany with Iveco, a truck maker based in the Netherlands. The two companies run a joint venture in Ulm, Germany manufacturing Nikola vehicles.
Founder’s trial underway
Trevor Milton, Nikola’s founder and former executive chairman, started trial for fraud in New York City this week.
Milton was charged with two counts of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan back in July 2021. Federal officials have since added another count of wire fraud related to the purchase of property in Utah, for a total of four criminal charges against Milton. The Securities and Exchange Commission has also charged Milton with civil securities fraud.
CNBC reported this week that prosecutors say Milton lied in an effort to boost the company’s share price.
“He lied to dupe innocent investors into buying his company’s stock,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos said in opening statements in U.S. District Court in New York Tuesday, Sept. 13. “On the backs of those innocent investors taken in by his lies, he became a billionaire virtually overnight.”
Trouble started for Milton in September that year after short seller Hindenburg Research published a report calling Nikola “an intricate fraud built on dozens of lies.” Milton left the company soon thereafter.
Though he is no longer at the company, Milton’s shadow still looms large. He is still the largest shareholder in the company, recently spending $17.4 million to buy up an additional 3 million Nikola shares, bringing his total holding to more than 51 million shares in the company.
Register for the Council’s upcoming Phoenix and Tucson tech events and Optics Valley optics + photonics events.