Yesterday we reported that people were driving out to the desert in Utah to film themselves rolling their cars, in neutral, down the very same hill that was alleged to be used to "power" a Nikola One Semi that allegedly wasn't powering itself for a 2018 Nikola commercial.
This morning, Nikola put out another press release attempting to address the main points in last week's Hindenburg Research report, but most importantly it admits that the Nikola One wasn't powering itself during the company's 2018 commercial. You can read Nikola's full response here.
"The Nikola One is a real truck that sits in Nikola’s showroom," the response says. "A pusher means a vehicle that was not designed to be moved by its own propulsion system. The Nikola One was, in fact, designed to be powered and driven by its own propulsion." (Our emphasis)
The release claims the gearbox, batteries, inverters and several other systems were functional, but then says: "As Nikola pivoted to the next generation of trucks, it ultimately decided not to invest additional resources into completing the process to make the Nikola One drive on its own propulsion. After pivoting, Nikola produced prototypes for the Nikola Two, which are self-propelled and have been frequently demonstrated, beginning with demonstration runs at Nikola World in April 2019."
Nikola never stated its truck was driving under its own propulsion in the video, although the truck was designed to do just that (as described in previous point)," the company admits. It then goes on to state, hilariously:
The truck was showcased and filmed by a third party for a commercial. Nikola described this third-party video on the Company’s social media as “In Motion.” It was never described as “under its own propulsion” or “powertrain driven.”
The release, which calls Hindenburg Research "an activist short-seller financially motivated to manipulate the market", also says the company's Nikola Two truck is beginning "pre-production testing" (whatever that means) and that the Nikola Tre will be available in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The date of the Tre release was called into question by the Hindenburg Research report, which pointed out that Nikola founder Trevor Milton had claimed about the Tre in a July 2020 podcast: "We have five of them coming off the assembly line right now in Ulm Germany."
Recall, among the bolder accusations made by Hindenburg Research in their recent scathing report about Nikola Corporation was the allegation that Nikola faked its Nikola One semi truck "in motion" video, which appeared to show a functioning big rig barreling through the desert, trailer in tow.
Hindenburg alleged, based on a former employee who spoke with Nikola's Chief Engineer Kevin Lynk that "the video was simply the result of Nikola towing the truck to the top of a hill and rolling it down."
In other words, the video wasn't of a working semi, but rather just a truck rolling down a hill.
"The deception involved in the production of this video appears to have been elaborate," the report claimed. "The company scouted a remote section of road on the Mormon Trail just to the south of Grantsville, Utah, which we have since located. This section of road is lightly used and features a 2-mile-long perfectly straight stretch with a consistent 3 percent grade–plenty of length and enough of a slope to get a motorless truck rolling."
Hindenburg even claimed in their report that they "rolled a vehicle in neutral down the same hill" and "reached a top speed of 56 mph and rolled for ~2.1 miles".
#NikolaChallenge Completed.— Nick (@Nick_P3D) September 13, 2020
Started just after the cattle guard. Speed at N. Willow cross road was 42mph. Top speed 48mph.
Will return w/ Model 3 soon. Went off-roading afterward this round.
Who's next? @WholeMarsBlog? :)
Will reply to this w/ unedited vid. @InsiderNikola pic.twitter.com/7zyZRHY6Dv
"We're starting just below the cattle guard," he jokes. "It's not a pusher, I assure you."
The video his pickup going from 0 mph in neutral to about 48 miles per hour. "This is a Nikola powertrain we're testing," the user jokes. "I have no need to order the Badger. I've converted my Tacoma to the Nikola powertrain," he says at the end of the video.
For reference, the video that Nikola posted to its official YouTube account in 2018 looked like this:
You can read Nikola's full response here.