Jesse Schneider, Nikola’s head of hydrogen and fuel cells, highlighted the company’s involvement in developing future fuel cell and fueling station technology.
“Nikola owns a lot of the [intellectual property] related to vehicle integration, storage and fueling,” Mr. Schneider said in a presentation to an online hydrogen-technology conference.
He provided an overview of eight patent applications on which Nikola is a party and two Energy Department-affiliated research projects with academic and corporate partners that the company expects to contribute to its technology later this decade.
Executives at the Phoenix-based startup are looking to steady the company after a short seller published a report Sept. 10 alleging Nikola was an “intricate fraud” and raising questions over how proprietary the company’s technology was. By the end of the month, Nikola’s deals with two key partners had been delayed, federal authorities had opened probes into the claims, its valuation had been halved, and founder Trevor Milton resigned as executive chairman.
Nikola has called the short seller’s report misleading and false, and Mr. Milton has said he would defend himself against allegations involving him.
The presentation Thursday continued an effort by Nikola executives since Mr. Milton’s departure to reassure investors while simplifying and focusing its strategy as a technology integrator.
Nikola plans to build zero-emission trucks for commercial customers and lease them at prices that would be cost-competitive with the diesel-powered trucks that now dominate the market. The company also plans to generate the hydrogen fuel and build out its own network of refueling stations. It has signed brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev SA BUD 2.04% and refuse hauler Republic Services Inc. RSG 0.62% as potential customers.
Chief Executive Mark Russell told The Wall Street Journal last week that the company was looking for a reset and emphasizing its plans for the heavy truck and hydrogen fuel markets as opposed to earlier digressions into products like zero-emission Jet Skis and all-terrain vehicles.
“Our partners and our institutional shareholders, they continue to support us,” Mr. Russell said. “This is our attempt to make sure the rest of the world understands the story.”
The stock has regained some of what it lost in September, rallying 22% since the start of the month to close at $25 Thursday.
Nikola said last month that it was teaming up with General Motors Co. GM 1.87% in a deal that would see the auto maker supply Nikola with fuel cells and batteries while designing and building a Nikola-branded pickup truck aimed at the consumer market. GM was to receive an 11% stake and a board seat as part of the deal.
Closing that agreement has taken longer than expected following the short seller’s report. Attorneys for GM and Nikola have been meeting daily to revisit terms of the initial agreement, people familiar with the talks said. The companies had originally expected to close the deal by the end of September.
Talks with another potential partner to build hydrogen fueling stations also stalled in September, the Journal reported. Nikola executives have said the company still expects to announce a partner by year’s end. The company’s ability to convince partners to join and stay onboard is crucial to its future, Wall Street analysts say.
“The GM partnership is a stress-test for the company,” a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst wrote in a note last week. “Withdrawal would be a major collateral blow.”
Write to Ben Foldy at [email protected]
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