|How Nikola's incoming CEO wants to crack the truck market|
HANOVER, Germany — As incoming Nikola Corp. CEO Michael Lohscheller took the podium at the IAA Transportation 2022 conference pitching his company's zero-emission trucks, Nikola founder Trevor Milton was 4,000 miles away in a New York courthouse facing charges he duped company investors.
Each had plenty to prove.
Milton once plied a vision of carbon-free hydrogen fuel cell trucking, creating a company with a stock market value of more than $20 billion at one point. But he now stands accused of misleading investors with exaggerated technology claims, including creating a video of a dummy hydrogen truck rolling down a slight incline to make it appear operational. The trial in U.S. District Court is expected to wrap up in early October.
As Milton's legal team works to convince a federal jury of his innocence, Lohscheller works to convince potential investors, customers and the trucking industry that his company is built on solid technology that makes economic sense to purchase.
"It's obviously a tough challenge, but at least he knows the situation and hopefully all the traps have been sprung," said Mike Ramsey, advanced mobility analyst at Gartner Inc.
Nikola needs to staunch its losses as it begins to sell trucks and collect revenue. It lost $173 million on sales of $18.1 million in the second quarter. But Lohscheller also has to create a turnaround in the perception of the company.
"The answer is very straightforward. Let the product speak the real language," Lohscheller told Automotive News. "Do we have a product which is real, which drives, which is doing the job? And the answer is yes."