GM to build Nikola Badger, supply batteries, hydrogen fuel cells

GM to build Nikola Badger, supply batteries, hydrogen fuel cells

The automaker will take an 11% stake in the electric vehicle startup in return for resources.

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Detroit, Michigan – Nikola Corp. and General Motors Co. are partnering to launch the startup’s hydrogen- and battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs). As part of the deal, GM will supply Lordstown, Ohio-built Ultium batteries and Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell technology in its upcoming vehicles.

GM will take an 11% stake in Nikola in return for technologies and contract manufacturing services, namely construction of the Nikola Badger pickup.

Nikola Founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton said, “We get access to their validated parts for all of our programs, General Motors’ Ultium battery technology, and a multi-billion dollar fuel cell program ready for production. Nikola immediately gets decades of supplier and manufacturing knowledge, validated and tested production-ready EV propulsion, world-class engineering, and investor confidence. Most importantly, General Motors has a vested interest to see Nikola succeed.”

For GM, the deal accelerates the company’s already aggressive move into EVs, and it creates a new customer relationship for Ultium batteries. GM is in the process of building its Ohio battery plant via a joint venture with LG Chem. The $2.3 billion battery project is an expensive bet on the future of EVs, so GM needs capacity to be high by the time the plant opens next year.

“This strategic partnership with Nikola, an industry leading disrupter, continues the broader deployment of General Motors’ all-new Ultium battery and Hydrotec fuel cell systems,” said General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are growing our presence in multiple high-volume EV segments while building scale to lower battery and fuel cell costs and increase profitability”

The agreement with Nikola extends GM’s utilization of its fuel cell technology to the Class 7/8 semi-truck market and represents a high-volume commercialization of its Hydrotec fuel cell system and complements the company’s battery-electric propulsion. Fuel cells will become increasingly important to the semi-truck market because they are more efficient than gas or diesel. General Motors sees additional growth opportunities in multiple transportation, stationary, and mobile-power end markets.

General Motors’ battery development work is ongoing. Its Ultium battery technology roadmap includes silicon anodes and lithium metal anodes, which will improve vehicle range, affordability, and reduced dependence on rare and costly metals. It is already demonstrating automotive-grade durability and significantly higher energy density.

Nikola will be responsible for the sales and marketing for the Badger and will retain the Nikola Badger brand. Badger production is expected to start in late 2022 at a location to be announced at a later date.

Nikola remains an independent company. The investment is subject to customary antitrust regulatory approval and closing conditions. The parties anticipate closing the transaction prior to Sept. 30, 2020.