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Nikola Motor's Woes

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Posted · Original PosterOP

After a short seller leveled fraud allegations against Nikola Motors almost two weeks ago, Nikola's chief chairman and founder, Trevor Milton has abruptly resigned from his position:

 

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/09/nikola-founder-abruptly-resigns-amid-fraud-allegations/

 

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Trevor Milton, founder of electric truck startup Nikola, resigned his job as executive chairman of the company on Sunday—effective immediately. Nikola's stock plunged after the news and is currently trading at around $28 per share, which is down 18 percent.

Milton's resignation came just 10 days after a bombshell research report revealed that Milton wasn't telling the truth in 2016 when he unveiled the company's first product, the Nikola One, and claimed that it "fully functions." The report from short-selling firm Hindenburg Research also revealed that a Nikola One truck that appeared to be driving down a highway under its own power in a 2018 promotional video was actually rolling down a hill. Nikola acknowledged last week that it never got the Nikola One working.

The short seller, Hindenburg Research made a series of fraud allegations against Nikola, chiefly, that Milton mislead investors and the public when back in 2016, they announced their first product, the Nikola One semi truck was fully functional. Hindenburg Research then made an allegation that the Nikola One truck seen in a 2018 promo video was actually towed up a hill, and let loose to roll down a hill to appear to be driving under it's own power, which Nikola eventually admitted was true, but tried to split hairs by claiming they never said the truck was actually driving under it's own power in the video.

 

Hindenburg Research's allegations came at a very interesting time for Nikola, as it was 2 days after they signed a deal with GM, where GM would produce Nikola's Badger pickup truck, where GM would essentially build the truck with their battery and fuel cell technology, and with all appearances being that Nikola contributing nothing to the agreement beyond lending their name, some financing, and providing GM a 11% stake in Nikola. Other than that, Nikola claims they have figured out a way to significantly cut the cost of hydrogen significantly, but they have released zero details on that front as well.

 

Nikola has named former GM executive, Stephen Girsky as its new chairman to replace Milton.

 

The situation with Nikola is getting very interesting indeed; it seems like there's nothing about the company that has driven it's sky high valuation, and the market appears to be catching onto that fact, as Nikola's stock has taken a massive beating after Hindenburg Research leveled their allegations. They appear to have nothing in terms of technology and research that would make them such a valuable company, and by all appearances, they look like another Theranos situation.

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The thing that bugged me about the nikola thing was the video with the concept of hydrogen energy trading and hydrogen pipelines.  


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I'm sure Elon got a good laugh out of that.


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Oh, c'mon!  We all know only one Nikola can be great at a time! 😂

Nikola Jokic is one of the NBA's most beloved, dominant players - Business  Insider

 

They should've known better! 🤣


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So do working hydrogen trucks exist or not?  The part that did seem reasonable was hydrogen powered shuttle trucks on set paths.  If that is a viable tech there is very little in the way of disruption. If they DONT it’s a really big deal.


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It would be a great acquisition by GreenPower Motor Company from BC.

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 hours ago, Bombastinator said:

So do working hydrogen trucks exist or not?  The part that did seem reasonable was hydrogen powered shuttle trucks on set paths.  If that is a viable tech there is very little in the way of disruption. If they DONT it’s a really big deal.

They do have a functioning prototype of the Nikola Two, but they've been extremely quiet about the technology behind it. It also appears that much of the technology behind it is off-the-shelf components, using fuel cells provided by Bosch, along with partnerships with Iveco.

 

However, they've been beaten to the punch on testing a hydrogen powered truck; Kenworth has already delivered a few trucks of their own design for field testing to their clients, using Toyota developed fuel cells.

 

Whatever the situation with Nikola is, apparently, the Feds are involved; the SEC and the Department of Justice have launched investigations into the company. So things appear to be getting very interesting.

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12 minutes ago, ThePointblank said:

They do have a functioning prototype of the Nikola Two, but they've been extremely quiet about the technology behind it. It also appears that much of the technology behind it is off-the-shelf components, using fuel cells provided by Bosch, along with partnerships with Iveco.

 

However, they've been beaten to the punch on testing a hydrogen powered truck; Kenworth has already delivered a few trucks of their own design for field testing to their clients, using Toyota developed fuel cells.

 

Whatever the situation with Nikola is, apparently, the Feds are involved; the SEC and the Department of Justice have launched investigations into the company. So things appear to be getting very interesting.

Kenworth is apparently part of paccar who also own Peterbuilt and DAF.  They’re a major international heavy industry equipment manufacturer doing a lot more than just trucks.  They operate in the US, EU, the UK, Australia, Brazil, and Mexico.  GM competes with paccar in truck manufacture. The whole of Nikola seems to be this secret lower cost hydrogen tech which may or may not be real.  


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8 hours ago, Bombastinator said:

So do working hydrogen trucks exist or not?  The part that did seem reasonable was hydrogen powered shuttle trucks on set paths.  If that is a viable tech there is very little in the way of disruption. If they DONT it’s a really big deal.

Scam. Total scam.

 

The hydrogen economy doesn't work in internal combustion engines (ICE) due to a phenomenon known as hydrogen embrittlement. Even if used for fuel cells, the tanks have to be strong, and it must be kept cryogenically cooled to stay in liquid form.

 

The best way to transport hydrogen is to bond it with (wait for it)......carbon! Yes, synthetic methane. AKA, natural gas. And LNG is very much a big thing in industry. THAT is the future.

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1 hour ago, StDragon said:

and it must be kept cryogenically cooled to stay in liquid form.

 

All of the stuff i've heard about hydrogen powered vehicles has involved gaseous storage. One thing i heard about involved using a magnesium foam to allow densities about halfway towards liquid form at lower pressures as the foam would absorb the hydrogen into it's structures at modest pressures and release it as the pressure dropped.

 

Completely insane, a fuel tank rupture is a disaster waiting to happen, but most of the theory i heard was around similar gas-foam composites.

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1 hour ago, StDragon said:

Scam. Total scam.

 

The hydrogen economy doesn't work in internal combustion engines (ICE) due to a phenomenon known as hydrogen embrittlement. Even if used for fuel cells, the tanks have to be strong, and it must be kept cryogenically cooled to stay in liquid form.

 

The best way to transport hydrogen is to bond it with (wait for it)......carbon! Yes, synthetic methane. AKA, natural gas. And LNG is very much a big thing in industry. THAT is the future.

That’s the hydrogen trading and hydrogen pipeline thing.  I wasn’t considering embrittlement, I was thinking about simple containment issues.  Hydrogen can’t really be stored well.  The molecule is too small.  It seeps right through the walls of metal containers.  Like pipelines.  As for methane There is apparently also butenol. Neither works great.  the most recent favorite is biodiesel I think.  Not sure. 
 

Apparently to do hydrogen electric the hydrogen has to be separated more or less on site. That isn’t tremendously difficult to do, and while it does deep through containers it doesn’t do it super quickly. My understanding is the thing that makes the EU and the US more acceptable for electric than gas cars is the distribution system.  Apparently Japan is going hydrogen.  Different geography is enough to make the difference, so it’s got to be pretty close. 


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Tesla is piling on Nikola's woes in their ongoing lawsuit by claiming that Nikola patented a stolen truck design:

 

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/09/nikola-patented-a-stolen-truck-design-tesla-claims-in-legal-response/

 

Quote

Two years ago, hydrogen-truck startup Nikola sued Tesla claiming that the Tesla Semi was a knockoff of Nikola's own truck design. On Wednesday, Tesla filed a response in the case accusing Nikola of basing its own truck on a 2010 concept by designer Adriano Mudri. Mudri is now director of design at the Croatian automaker Rimac.

 

"Adriano Mudri is the designer of the Road Runner concept truck," Tesla writes in its legal filing. "The Road Runner concept truck was entered into the 2010 Michelin Design Challenge, and was selected for display at the 2010 North American International Auto Show."

 

According to Tesla, Nikola founder Trevor Milton met with Mudri "during 2014 and/or 2015." Tesla says that Milton knew about the Road Runner concept truck at the time he applied for the design patents Nikola later used to sue Tesla and that Mudri's design "constituted a significant inventive contribution" to the designs Nikola patented.

Milton and Nikola designer Steve Jennes were listed as inventors on Nikola's patent applications, which failed to acknowledge Mudri's alleged influence over the design. Tesla argues that this failure to acknowledge Mudri should render Nikola's patents invalid.

 

Tesla also points out that several elements of Nikola's design—including the wraparound windshield and general streamlined shape—have long been featured in other semi trucks. Tesla included photos of several other trucks that share features with Nikola's patented design.

 

It seems like Tesla is pushing to invalid Nikola's patents by trying to demonstrate that Nikola's patents lack novelty over prior art, and misattribution of inventorship. That would be the death knell of Nikola's ongoing lawsuit against Tesla, and just adds to the legal troubles Nikola is facing.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

The Financial Times is reporting that Nikola's former chairman and founder, Trevor Milton bought truck designs from a third party for the Nikola One, which he then turned around and patented, trying to pass it off as his own work. This while claiming in a lawsuit against Tesla in 2018 that the design for the Nikola One as being a design he invented in his basement by himself:

 

Quote

The original design for Nikola’s flagship truck was purchased by founder Trevor Milton from a designer in Croatia, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, despite company claims in a 2018 lawsuit that the vehicle was initially designed by Mr Milton “in his basement”.

 

The truck, the Nikola One, is at the centre of a $2bn lawsuit with Tesla, in which Nikola alleges its rival infringed on its patents. Nikola claims in that lawsuit that Mr Milton began designing the model in 2013, with other company staff later working on it.

 

In a rebuttal to the lawsuit filed last week, Tesla alleged that Nikola could not protect the designs because they did not originate from the company itself, but from Adriano Mudri, a designer based in Croatia.

 

Two people with knowledge of the transaction told the Financial Times that the Nikola founder bought the designs in 2015 after meeting Mr Mudri while visiting electric supercar maker Rimac in Croatia.

 

While Tesla’s filing identifies the designer as the source of the original truck drawings, it does not contain details about the transaction, explain that money was exchanged, or that Mr Milton himself orchestrated the purchase.

 

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They were just like a Kickstarter, all promises and fancy videos or renders but no physical product of any kind yet. Nothing you can touch. Yet people still invested or bought into them. Don't buy things that aren't real yet

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On 9/24/2020 at 5:56 PM, ThePointblank said:

Tesla is piling on Nikola's woes in their ongoing lawsuit by claiming that Nikola patented a stolen truck design:

 

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2020/09/nikola-patented-a-stolen-truck-design-tesla-claims-in-legal-response/

 

 

It seems like Tesla is pushing to invalid Nikola's patents by trying to demonstrate that Nikola's patents lack novelty over prior art, and misattribution of inventorship. That would be the death knell of Nikola's ongoing lawsuit against Tesla, and just adds to the legal troubles Nikola is facing.

That whole thing reminds me a bit of the cornflakes lawsuit from the 19th century.  There were two Kelloggs.  A doctor and a businessman.  The doctor was the leader of the first company and treated his brother the businessman extremely badly.  He was also the basis for the doctor character in the movie “the road to wellville” The businessman developed the flaking behavior of cornflakes (which apparently had to do with water content) and since he was fed up simply left with it.  There was a big law suit about the patent.  The businessman went over the discovery process with the judge and the doctor said the process “came to him in a dream”. The judge awarded the patent to the businessman who founded Kellogg’s corn flakes.  He did quite well. 


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On 9/22/2020 at 9:36 PM, Bombastinator said:

So do working hydrogen trucks exist or not?  The part that did seem reasonable was hydrogen powered shuttle trucks on set paths.  If that is a viable tech there is very little in the way of disruption. If they DONT it’s a really big deal.

Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles were a huge thing back around 2005. Bunch of car manufacturers had HFCVs and a lot of modern cities ran buses with such systems. And then all just quieted down and pretty much disappeared and then came Tesla and the whole battery based energy storage boom. Almost like it was artificially agreed industry is not going with hydrogen and they are doing batteries instead... Battery makers are going stonks ever since...

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Reminds me of Faraday Future(s).


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1 hour ago, RejZoR said:

Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles were a huge thing back around 2005. Bunch of car manufacturers had HFCVs and a lot of modern cities ran buses with such systems. And then all just quieted down and pretty much disappeared and then came Tesla and the whole battery based energy storage boom. Almost like it was artificially agreed industry is not going with hydrogen and they are doing batteries instead... Battery makers are going stonks ever since...

Sounds like that was about the time liion batteries got better.   Doesn’t sound like an artificial agreement so much as the math changing.  For a long time battery powered cars were considered pointless because the energy density of batteries was too low.  If battery energy density/cost  is getting better faster than hydrogen technology energy density/cost electric will win out.  If there is a breakthrough in hydrogen technology I suspect the pendulum will switch back towards hydrogen.   It apparently doesn’t take much.  They’re pretty close it seems.


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Battery energy density is still low and actually really terrible. Only thing bailing them out is actually the electric motor with its efficiency.

 

I mean, average EV needs to drag around 500kg of batteries whether it's fully charged or almost empty, making all EV's weight around 2 tons where most petrol ones are around 1,5 tons. And they generally do around 400 km or so on one charge which still takes around 30 minutes on fastest possible charger that you most certainly won't have access everywhere.

 

Petrol car (regular hatchback), carries around around 55 liters of fuel (lets assume that's 55kg for the sake of example). It's 55kg when full and 1kg when almost empty. It can do roughly 650 km with one tank which is refueled at any gas station around the world in lets be generous, under 5 minutes.

 

ICE car, despite its engine only having thermal efficiency of only 20-40%, they still have outstanding range, lower total weight, faster "recharging". Not to mention colder regions like where I live where roughly half of the year temperatures are colder and 3-4 of those are very cold with zero or sub zero temperatures. ICE cars actually benefit here because the excess heat is used to heat the cabin. In EV's, you further lose range because batteries don't like extreme cold meaning you have to heat them up on your own and you use extra energy to heat the cabin as electric motors are so efficient they produce very little heat.

 

My point being, those 55kg of fuel can drive a petrol car further despite all its inefficiencies, making gasoline one of most energy dense sources known to mankind this moment. Hydrogen, despite its theoretically superior energy density doesn't ever reach it because storing it is so inconvenient and to store large amounts of it you need super heavy canisters and even there you can only store a limited amount because you can't stuff so much of it under pressure.

 

I think batteries will really take off when we figure out the process where energy (electricity) storage won't be a chemical process like in li-ion batteries, but a physical one where we shove electrons directly into matter and take them out the same way, making batteries not degrade the same way and have higher density and efficiency and also faster recharge times. How we're gonna achieve that, I have no idea. But that will be the future of batteries.

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On 9/23/2020 at 6:12 AM, StDragon said:

The hydrogen economy doesn't work in internal combustion engines (ICE) due to a phenomenon known as hydrogen embrittlement. Even if used for fuel cells, the tanks have to be strong, and it must be kept cryogenically cooled to stay in liquid form.

Why on earth would they use hydrogen in liquid from?  Current system used in cars and truck are compressed gas.

No one in the right mind are using hydrogen in combustion engine, is there any manufacturer that do? Hyundai where first with hydrogen trucks and they use fuel-cell. The tanks are extremely safe, you can even shot them with rifle without even a leak.  For extra safety are the gas are divided into 2 or more tanks on smal cars and trucks there is a lot of them. I would be more worried with batteries, remember they are also explosive if damaged.

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33 minutes ago, Kroon said:

Why on earth would they use hydrogen in liquid from?  Current system used in cars and truck are compressed gas.

No one in the right mind are using hydrogen in combustion engine, is there any manufacturer that do? Hyundai where first with hydrogen trucks and they use fuel-cell. The tanks are extremely safe, you can even shot them with rifle without even a leak.  For extra safety are the gas are divided into 2 or more tanks on smal cars and trucks there is a lot of them. I would be more worried with batteries, remember they are also explosive if damaged.

You store hydrogen in liquid form due to density which provides greater range. According to BMW, that's the preferred method for fuel cell usage. They also claim it's very safe in crash testing. Maybe it is.

 

The problem with hydrogen is multifaceted; but it's not a consumer friendly method. It's odorless, it can burn without much of visual flame, and is very easy to leak. It's also under high pressure which poses safety issues in handling. And of course, is explosive if the conditions are right (but that's super rare and not likely if well ventilated)  As understand it, hydrogen has no additive to give it a smell whereas natural gas used in the home has trace amounts of mercaptan. Also, there's a risk that additives to hydrogen could cause problems for the fuel cell. I'm not sure if that's been a solved problem yet. But current hydrogen detection requires expensive sensors.

 

So basically, all of the aforementioned including infrastructural maintenance puts this out of the hands of the average consumer. For industrial and commercial use? Sure, I suppose. But IMHO, I think Walmart's approach at using LNG for its fleet is a more practical method.

 

 

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1 hour ago, StDragon said:

So basically, all of the aforementioned including infrastructural maintenance puts this out of the hands of the average consumer.

 

I have a hydrogen car and so do most of my coworkers. Infrastructure (Refuling) are becoming better and better and with new solar cells where that directly make hydrogen do so you can make your own fuel.  I'm on the list to buy a set of those to put on my roof.

 

I don't know why there is no much false/miss information about hydrogen and it's risks.  Here in Sweden we have whole houses completely off grid with solar cells generating hydrogen out of water an store it under the house. Just the cells on the roof of the house generates enough hydrogen during the summer so you will have enough to last the winter.  Right now are whole communities, more then 100 households, planned to run on hydrogen only with enough over so everyone can run their cars to.

 

I can provide Swedish sources if you want to, only found one in English and it's not complete and somewhat outdated:

https://www.zerosun.se/

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