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Nikola hands off fuel cell and battery systems to GM in joint venture

Credit: Trevor Milton | Twitter

Nikola Motor has reached an agreement with General Motors that will see the legacy automaker produce its first pickup truck, the Badger. GM will hold the responsibility of engineering the battery and fuel cell electric vehicle variants of Nikola’s introductory passenger vehicle, according to sources.

In exchange for the “in-kind services,” GM will receive a $2 billion equity stake in Nikola. The Detroit-based GM will be required to validate, homologate, and build the Badger for Nikola, which will save the startup over $4 billion in battery and powertrain costs over ten years. An additional billion dollars will also be saved in engineering and validation costs.

GM expects to receive more than $4 billion of benefits “between the equity of the shares, contract manufacturing of the badger, supply contracts for batteries and fuel cells, and EV credits retained over the life of the contract,” according to @andyjayhawk on Twitter.

GM will also be the exclusive supplier of fuel cells for Nikola’s class 7 and class 8 trucks outside of the European market. These two categorizations are for “heavy trucks” that will weigh 26,001 pounds and up.

General Motors confirmed the announcement this morning on Twitter and stated that the Nikola Badger would use GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology and Ultium battery systems.

GM has expanded its exploration into EV and alternative-fuel vehicle development over the past several months. Executive Vice President Doug Parks has stated that the automaker has “multiple teams” working on developing zero-cobalt batteries, solid-state electrolytes, and an ultra-fast charging infrastructure.

But GM taking on Nikola’s projects is a whole different ballgame in comparison to a traditional EV project. Nikola’s vehicles are primarily hydrogen fuel-cell-based, but the Badger pickup will be available in both FCEV and BEV variants.

Nikola has been the subject of heavy criticism in the past from skeptics. CEO Trevor Milton has been vocal about his support for moving the world to more sustainable forms of transportation. Still, the EV community has plenty of criticism for the head of the company who has been outspoken in his support for his company.

Perhaps a partnership with an established automaker could help Nikola begin producing its vehicles in a more efficient timeframe. The Badger isn’t expected to be produced until 2022, and the company is currently working on the construction of a production facility in Coolidge, Arizona.

Nikola hands off fuel cell and battery systems to GM in joint venture
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