Six months ago, the startup stated on its website that the Tre truck would be “as light as comparable diesels,” which are about 17,000 pounds, as the Financial Times reports. Late last week, however, short seller Hindenburg Research spotted something in one of Nikola’s own promotional videos, as the Financial Times notes. In the background of one shot of the Tre truck on a set of scales, you could see a whiteboard reading “Tre Weights” and “Tractor 29800”.
Really!? Did no one bother to check any of this footage? I’m not trying to defend Nikola here, I’m just amazed at how it’s always the little things that get you caught.
The Financial Time’s report elaborates on the issue, explaining that a lighter truck can carry more cargo:
Batteries are heavier than diesel fuel, a problem confronting every manufacturer trying to build a long-haul electric truck. A paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated a battery pack capable of powering a long-range tractor-trailer would weigh 20,000 to 30,000 pounds, cutting the amount of freight a truck can carry.
That MIT report is pretty spot on. A 13,000 pound discrepancy eats into the amount of cargo that the tractors can carry and drags profits down. So, a heavier truck is not a good thing for long-haul logistics and the claims Nikola once made proved to be flat-out wrong.
Nikola has now retracted those statements on its website, but it’s not out of the woods yet — I suppose it’s hard to advance out of a wooded area when your trucks are laden by all of the false statements and controversies your startup has found itself in. Now U.S. authorities, among them the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are investigating the company for other irregularities, per the FT.
Nikola said that even though it removed the weight claims from its website, it had nothing to do with the report from Hindenburg Research, according to the FT, but now I’m just waiting for another video to drop that will feature a whiteboard in the background with a sad face doodle next to the words HINDENBURG RESEARCH.