Its stock is in freefall.

Truck Fire

Hydrogen and electric truck maker Nikola Motor is running into some serious issues with its battery-powered trucks.

As Reuters reports, a pre-production version of one of the company's semi truck caught fire near Nikola's headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona last week, the second incident involving the company's trucks within a matter of days.

That means there have been a total of four fires involving the company's Class 8 Tre Battery Electric Vehicle (BEVs) trucks to date. The first fire occurred back in June, when a truck caught fire at the company's headquarters due to a coolant leak. Then a second truck burst into flames due to a malfunction in August, triggering a recall of all the company's trucks at the time.

In other words, adding two more fires to the tally following the recall isn't exactly confidence-inducing. And investors aren't impressed, with shares of the already-troubled carmaker dropping more than 50 percent over the past month alone.

Rolling Start

The company's already had a turbulent couple of years, to put it lightly. Back in 2020, former CEO Trevor Milton had a public spat with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over the viability of hydrogen fuel cell-powered semi trucks, with Musk mocking him and calling the idea "staggeringly dumb."

Then later that year, Nikola got caught rolling a hydrogen-powered prototype truck down a hill in a promotional video, indicating the truck wasn't able to move on its own accord.

The stunt led to several fraud charges, with Milton stepping down weeks later. In October 2022, a federal court found him guilty of three of four counts of fraud.


Despite the major headwind, Nikola started producing its Tre electric semi trucks in 2021 under new leadership. By August 2022, the company had managed to deliver 48 vehicles to dealers.

So what about its hydrogen-powered trucks? Interestingly, the fuel cell variant was not affected by the August recall. Last month, the company announced it had 202 orders for the fuel cell variant, indicating there is at least some appetite for a much faster-recharging truck that has an advertised range of up to 500 miles.

But where the latest four electric truck fires leave the company in 2023 remains to be seen.

By all indications, the last three years have been a serious wake-up call for the once-hyped hydrogen truck startup. At below $1 a share today, the company has wiped out a tremendous amount of value.

Just over three years ago, its market valuation ballooned to $31 billion, sending it soaring past car giants Ford and Fiat Chrysler — but now its market capitalization is languishing under a billion dollars.

More on Nikola: Nikola's Fake Hydrogen Truck Was Actually Plugged In During Demo, According to Lawsuit

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