The first all-electric trucks from new car companies and veteran automakers are yet to start consumer deliveries, but this has not stopped truckmaker Nikola from throwing some good old-fashioned shade at one of its competitors. In comments during its inaugural quarterly earnings call, CEO Mark Russell stated that part of the reason behind the company’s decision to release the Nikola Badger pickup is due to the Cybertruck’s “doorstop” appearance.
According to the CEO, Nikola actually did not have plans to produce a zero-emissions pickup a year ago. The company had a concept for a pickup truck, but it did not really intend to do anything with it. That is, at least, until Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck. And as it turned out, the Cybertruck’s looks just happened to be very, very polarizing.
“A year ago we didn’t believe we would be building a pickup truck. We had built several off-road vehicle prototypes and had a concept for a pickup truck. We didn’t intend to do anything with it until we saw the Cybertruck. A lot of people didn’t like the look of the Cybertruck, including me. I think it looks like a doorstop, but they got lots of reservations for it, so more power to them,” Russell said.
That being said, pickup trucks like the Badger will likely be more of a sideline business for Nikola due to the company’s focus on zero-emissions long-haulers like the all-electric Nikola Tre and the hydrogen-powered Nikola Two. Nevertheless, Russell remarked that Nikola is currently close to naming its designated manufacturing partner for the Badger, and that an announcement on the topic will likely be held before the end of the year.
Interestingly enough, Nikola founder Trevor Milton actually offered the Badger’s design to Tesla CEO Elon Musk following the Cybertruck’s unveiling last November. In a post on Twitter, Milton noted that he would be happy to donate Nikola’s pickup design if Tesla wishes to hit a broader market. But after over 89,000 people signed up online for more information about Nikola’s zero-emissions pickup, Russell explained that the company opted to move forward with the vehicle’s production and release.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been pretty transparent with the Cybertruck’s design, noting even before the vehicle’s unveiling that the all-electric pickup will not be for everyone. In a recent interview with Automotive News, Musk remarked that if the Cybertruck would end up failing, Tesla would simply make a more conventional all-electric pickup. “If it turns out nobody wants to buy a weird-looking truck, we’ll build a normal truck, no problem,” Musk said.
The Tesla Cybertruck is currently available for a refundable $100 deposit. Nikola, on the other hand, is currently offering reservations for the Badger that range from $250 to $5,000 each. Reservations for the Badger started on June 29, 2020, though the CEO did not disclose how many reservations it has received to date. For his part, Russell stated that he is looking forward to competing with the Tesla Cybertruck in the pickup truck market. “We’re trying to get the whole world to zero” emissions. It’s gonna take more than us so we cheer (Musk) on. But a lot of people didn’t like the look of that thing,” the CEO said.