Did GM leap too soon into bed with Nikola?

Discussion in 'Technology' started by bitzman, Sep 14, 2020.

  1. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008

    There is a scene in The Wizard of Oz where the intrepid Dorothy works her way up to the stage where the Wizard is pontificating and peers behind it and sees a little man with a big microphone.
    I am wondering, as no doubt many investors are, if we are seeing another wizard in the form of the CEO of Nikola, a would be rival to Tesla.
    What makes this a perilous situation is that GM recently invested two billion in the upstart start-up , which has shown an autonomous truck and an electric pickup truck.
    GM, having ignored the rise of Tesla, is like a lot of automakers, desperate to find "the next Tesla" and buying into companies that look like they have the moxie to take on the proven electric car champion, Elon Musk (who just to show he's ambidextrous, is making millions with a rocket company side gig called Space X).
    Reading a few stories in the financial press lately I found out
    --GM watched a video of an autonomous Nicola tractor trailer unaware that though the truck appeared to be electric, it was merely rolling down a hill.
    Furthermore says a company called Hindenberg Research: "At the December 2016 event (a press preview.) , Nikola Chairman Trevor Milton repeatedly described the truck as fully functional. But that wasn't quite true, as Milton admitted to Bloomberg earlier this year. The supposedly hydrogen-powered truck didn't have a hydrogen fuel cell, nor did it have the motors and gears required to drive the wheels. Milton claimed the parts had been taken out of the truck for safety reasons.

    The new report from Hindenburg Research claims that the scale of Nikola's deception was even greater than was previously known. The firm claims that the prototype's supposedly functional dashboard display was powered by an extension cord snaking up from under the stage.

    Nikola allegedly never had a working prototype prior to the presentation. An anonymous source provided Hindenburg with a late 2017 text message exchange in which a Nikola employee claimed that "we haven't touched the truck since the show." He added that he "can't imagine how much work it would take to get that to run."

    Hindenberg, however. is short selling Nicola, so any bad news for Nikola is good news for short sellers. Still, GM believes in Nikola so much that GM will build Nikola's Badger pickup truck—as well as supplying batteries. You wonder what Nikola is bringing to the table other than the charisma of its leader? The newer Nikola Two truck, a pickup developed after the semi, is real and outsiders have been filmed taking test rides. But has GM tested it to prove it's superior to its own in-house designs?
    And GM does not have a spotless record on the reality of prototypes. I seem to remember the Four Rotor Corvette prototype that was actually two GM two rotor engines lashed to work together. No reporter drove it but it was touted as The New New thing only to abruptly sink beneath the waves of GM's scuttled rotary program.
    So what am I saying? That we all, as investors , hope that there are more Elon Musk types willing to step forward with an equally bold new product, but we shouldn't blind ourselves because we want so much to believe. I am ashamed that the US government has bailed out GM here and there if they have management who are so dumb that when a guy says he has an electric semi they don't send an engineering team to drive it.
    Ask Dorothy. I got more faith in her than I do in GM.
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  3. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008

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