(Bloomberg) — Nikola Corp. wants to put allegations of deception behind it with a push to showcase its own innovations and detail how it plans to get its clean-powered trucks to market.
Executives at the embattled startup are talking to investors to rebut criticism it has no working prototypes and to clarify its business plans after the resignation of founder and former Chairman Trevor Milton. That effort includes highlighting technology with existing or pending patents, explaining the role partners will play and providing better milestones on efforts to start production.
“Our message is the same as it was before,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell in an interview. “We have an ecosystem of partners that have validated what we’re doing. We believe we’re within three years of producing a fuel-cell truck and one year of producing a battery-powered truck.”
Nikola executives will also use planned and direct communication to media and investors instead of the social media posts that Milton favored, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, who asked not to be identified.
The charm offensive is an attempt to counter investor skepticism about Nikola’s business model in the wake of a short-seller report last month that questioned the company’s capabilities and claims of progress. Nikola has denied misrepresenting itself, but federal regulators are reportedly examining the allegations against the company and Milton. The ex-chair also has been accused of harassment claims that he denies.
Shares of the company have fallen almost 50% from their price after going public in June through a reverse merger. The stock pared a decline of as much as 9.3% on Tuesday, trimming losses in early afternoon trading. The stock was down 6.2% to $18.10 as of 1:30 p.m. in New York.
Patents and Software
Nikola has forged technology-sharing relationships with