Shares of Nikola Motor Company (NASDAQ: NKLA) dropped by over 24% in early trading hours on Monday morning after General Motors signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, describing their partnership’s newly minimized terms. GM has completely backed out of the idea of helping Nikola produce its all-electric Badger pickup and will focus solely on the manufacturing of Nikolas Class 7 and Class 8 zero-emission semi-trucks that will be powered by GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology.
Nikola released a statement on Monday morning that described a non-binding MOU, which was signed by both parties, outlining a partnership between the two companies that would have GM supplying its fuel-cell systems into Nikola’s semi-trucks. The new MOU will supersede and replace the previous agreement that was set to be finalized in early December. The initial agreement was announced on September 8th, but many things have happened since then that have complicated the nature of the deal.
After GM and Nikola had announced their initial intentions to make a deal for manufacturing, a group known as Hindenburg Research released a document entitled, “Nikola—How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership With the Largest Auto OEM in America.” The report called the company “an intricate fraud” and outlined several accusations involving Nikola being fraudulent and misleading to its shareholders. Arguably the most shocking claim was that Nikola’s demonstration of the One, its introductory semi-truck, was not self-propelled. Nikola revealed that it had spent a tremendous sum of money on the One, and it had no desire to spend more capital on the development of a One prototype. Instead, the company let the semi-truck drift down a slightly embanked hill, which gave the appearance that it was self-propelled.
After admitting this, Nikola shares fell by around 10%, and the company’s widely-criticized CEO, Trevor Milton, stepped down from his position and disappeared from the public spotlight.
Teslarati recently reported that GM and Nikola talks had frozen after the Hindenburg accusations. GM told us that the transaction was still incomplete as of November 18th. It appears that the two companies were working out a new deal that would still require a partnership but would be less intimate.
As a result of GM’s new, minimal agreement with Nikola, the electric automaker filed an offer of up to 23.9 million shares linked to warrants and an additional 53.4 million shares of common stock. The extension of shares caused the stock to fall, and at the time of writing, it was down 24.26%.