Electric vehicle manufacturer Nikola has admitted that a YouTube video showing its electric-powered ‘Nikola One’ lorry driving downhill was not quite as accurate as originally claimed.
It has now been revealed that that truck, which was described at the time as “fully functional”, was rolling downhill under its own weight. The video, originally posted in January 2018 and currently boasting 260,000 views, appears to show the lorry driving along a desert highway.
In a press release, the company admitted that the truck was not operating under its own power but claimed it did not purposefully mislead investors.
In a statement, the company said: “The Nikola One is a real truck that sits in Nikola’s showroom. A pusher means a vehicle that was not designed to be moved by its own propulsion system. The Nikola One was, in fact, designed to be powered and driven by its own propulsion.
“As Nikola pivoted to the next generation of trucks, it ultimately decided not to invest additional resources into completing the process to make the Nikola One drive on its own propulsion.”
The company added: “After pivoting, Nikola produced prototypes for the Nikola Two, which are self-propelled and have been frequently demonstrated, beginning with demonstration runs at Nikola World in April 2019.”
However, the firm has now admitted that although the lorry’s gearbox, batteries and other components were functional, the truck did not have a working hydrogen fuel cell at the time.
Nikola also said that it’s Nikola One model was “an incredibly successful proof of concept” and that that the company has “learned from that experience” to help accelerate the development of its later trucks.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is said to be investigating the reports of customers being misled.
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The accusations surrounding the video come after a report released by the firm Hindenburg Research on the 10th September which accuses Nikola of fraudulent activities surrounding its former CFO Trevor Milton.
Hindenburg said it believes the vehicle manufacturer has woven an “intricate fraud built on dozens of lies over the course of its Founder and Executive Chairman Trevor Milton’s career”.
“We have gathered extensive evidence – including recorded phone calls, text messages, private emails and behind-the-scenes photographs – detailing dozens of false statements by Nikola Founder Trevor Milton,” the report states. “We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size.”
The firm claims that Milton made repeated false statements and claims over the course of a decade to form the $20 billion public company . Nikola has signed partnerships with some of the top auto companies in the world as it hopes to compete with electric vehicle giant, Tesla.
Nikola has hit back against the report, stating that its release coincides closely with the company’s new partnership with General Motors.
In a statement, the company said the report’s publication may have been designed to “provide a false impression to investors and to negatively manipulate the market in order to financially benefit short-sellers, including Hindenburg itself”.