GM, Nikola in fuel cell deal for heavy trucks; Nikola kills pickup program

DETROIT—Officials at General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) announced that it had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Phoenix, Ariz.-based Nikola Corp. (Nasdaq: NKLA) for a global supply agreement to provide its Hydrotec fuel cell system for Nikola’s Class 7 and Class 8 large trucks, now under development.

They said the new agreement MoU replaces the previous transaction announced Sept. 8.

“This supply agreement recognizes our leading fuel cell technology expertise and development,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain. “Providing our Hydrotec fuel cell systems to the heavy-duty class of commercial vehicles is an important part of our growth strategy and reinforces our commitment toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future.”

Under the terms of the MOU, Nikola and GM will work together to integrate GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology into Nikola’s Class 7 and Class 8 zero-emission semi-trucks for the medium- and long-haul trucking sectors. Nikola officials said they expect to begin testing production-engineered prototypes of its hydrogen fuel-cell powered trucks by the end of 2021, with testing for the beta prototypes expected to begin in the first half of 2022. In addition, Nikola and GM will discuss the potential for the utilization of GM’s Ultium battery system in Nikola’s Class 7 and Class 8 vehicles.

“We are excited to take this important step with GM, which provides an opportunity to leverage the resources, strengths and talent of both companies,” said Mark Russell, Nikola CEO. “Heavy trucks remain our core business and we are 100 percent focused on hitting our development milestones to bring clean hydrogen and battery-electric commercial trucks to market. We believe fuel cells will become increasingly important to the semi-truck market, as they are more efficient than gas or diesel and are lightweight compared to batteries for long hauls. By working with GM, we are reinforcing our companies’ shared commitment to a zero-emission future.”

The agreement between Nikola and GM is subject to negotiation and execution of documentation acceptable to both parties. The MOU does not include the previously contemplated GM equity stake in Nikola or development of the Nikola Badger electric and fuel cell pickup trucks. As previously announced, the Nikola Badger program was dependent on an OEM partnership. Nikola will refund all previously submitted order deposits for the Nikola Badger.

GM’s Hydrotec fuel cell system will be engineered at its Michigan technical centers in Pontiac and Warren and manufactured at its Brownstown Charter Township battery assembly plant.

More at www.nikolamotor.com or www.gm.com.

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