Scott Damman, a senior manager at General Motors, has testified at Nikola founder Trevor Milton’s fraud trial. The GM engineer provided some insights about the ill-fated Nikola Badger pickup truck, particularly with the parts that would be used had the vehicle entered production.
In September 2020, Nikola and General Motors announced a $2 billion deal that gave the veteran automaker an 11% stake in the upstart automaker. The deal involved GM supplying battery and fuel cell technologies, as well as producing, the Nikola Badger pickup truck.
Milton had stated during an interview then that the Nikola Badger would mostly feature parts from Nikola. “It’s probably 70% Nikola, 30% GM, when it comes to the parts that are really important to us,” Milton said. This, according to Damman, was false.
While Nikola did own the Badger’s creative design, all the parts of the vehicle were set to come from General Motors, according to the GM engineer.
“There were no components coming from Nikola. They owned the creative design, what the vehicle looked like and felt like, but all of the parts were to come from General Motors,” Damman told the jury in a federal court in Manhattan.
The Nikola Badger actually had some momentum before, so much so that the company started taking $5,000 down payments for the vehicle. It was also heavily promoted online, with Nikola getting the support of notable auto influencers such as the Diesel Brothers. The Nikola Badger was supposed to be unveiled later in the year, but the event was canceled.
Ultimately, the Badger was also canceled as GM scaled back its commitments on Nikola and dropped its plans for a stake in the company. Had the Badger been unveiled, however, former Nikola employee Brendan Babiarz told the jury that the company did have a plan of sorts — in the form of a vehicle made partly with components from a Ford F-150 Raptor and a chopped-up electric Nikola power sports vehicle.
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