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Pushing the Electric Vehicle Agenda

Sept. 14, 2020
An automotive powerhouse is teaming up with an electric truck startup to help bring more electric vehicles to market.

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With more automakers looking for ways to efficiently build greener and more environmentally friendly vehicles, one automotive powerhouse has found an innovative startup to join forces with. Last week, General Motors Co., and Nikola Corporation announced a strategic partnership that will find the former engineering, validating and manufacturing the Nikola Badger.  

You couldn’t dream of a better partnership than this,” Nikola’s Trevor Milton said in the press release. “By joining together, we get access to their validated parts for all of our programs, General Motors’ Ultium battery technology, and a multi-billion dollar fuel cell program ready for production.”

Nikola also gets decades of supplier and manufacturing knowledge, validated and tested production-ready electric vehicle (EV) propulsion, world-class engineering and investor confidence. “Most importantly, General Motors has a vested interest to see Nikola succeed,” Milton added. “We made three promises to our stakeholders and have now fulfilled two out of three promises ahead of schedule.”

A Zero-Emissions Future

GM CEO Mary Barra sounds equally as enthusiastic about the new alliance. “This strategic partnership with Nikola, an industry leading disrupter, continues the broader deployment of General Motors’ all-new Ultium battery and Hydrotec fuel cell systems,” she said in the release.

“We are growing our presence in multiple high-volume EV segments while building scale to lower battery and fuel cell costs and increase profitability,” she continued. “In addition, applying General Motors’ electrified technology solutions to the heavy-duty class of commercial vehicles is another important step in fulfilling our vision of a zero-emissions future.”

News of the new partnership was well received by the industry. In “GM acquires stake in electric truck maker Nikola, will help make the company’s first vehicle,” Andrew J. Hawkins writes about GM’s $20 billion pivot to an “all-electric future” that includes spending $2.2 billion to retrofit its first fully-dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant and the development of its modular battery-electric platform, Ultium. “Recently, Wall Street investors have begun pressuring the automaker to spin off its EV business,” he adds, “which is estimated to be worth up to $100 billion.”

Nailing Down the Details

According to the companies, the agreement extends GM’s utilization of its fuel cell technology to the Class 7/8 semi-truck market; represents a high-volume commercialization of its leading Hydrotec fuel cell system; and complements the company’s battery-electric propulsion.

“Fuel cells will become increasingly important to the semi-truck market because they are more efficient than gas or diesel,” the companies point out. “General Motors sees additional growth opportunities in multiple transportation, stationary, and mobile-power end markets.”

The agreement appears to be a win-win deal for both parties. “Avoiding building a factory saved us billions,” Nikola founder Trevor Milton said on a conference call with the media after the news was announced, as reported by Business Insider.  "That was a big fear of ours. But now, BAM! We’re in production." 

As part of the agreement, Nikola will be responsible for the sales and marketing for the Badger and will retain the Nikola Badger brand. The Badger was first announced on Feb. 10, 2020 and will make its public debut Dec. 3-5, at Nikola World 2020 in Arizona. Badger production is expected to start in late 2022 at a location to be announced at a later date. 

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About the Author

Bridget McCrea | Contributing Writer | Supply Chain Connect

Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers business and technology for various publications.