Nikola partners with General Motors for battery and fuel cell tech

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 9, 2020

Nikola Corporation and General Motors Co. have announced a strategic partnership, part of which will allow Nikola to utilise General Motors‘ Ultium battery system and Hydrotec fuel cell technology, representing a key commercialisation milestone for General Motors.

Nikola will exchange US$2 billion in newly issued common stock for the in-kind services and access to General Motors‘ global safety-tested and validated parts and components. General Motors will be subject to a staged lock-up provision beginning in one year and ending in June 2025. General Motors will engineer, homologate, validate and manufacture the Nikola Badger battery electric and fuel cell versions. 

“Nikola immediately gets decades of supplier and manufacturing knowledge, validated and tested production-ready EV propulsion, world-class engineering and investor confidence. Most importantly, General Motors has a vested interest to see Nikola succeed,” said Nikola founder and executive chairman Trevor Milton.

“By joining together, we get access to their validated parts for all of our programmes, General Motors‘ Ultium battery technology, and a multibillion dollar fuel cell programme ready for production.”

GM‘s Ultium battery technology roadmap includes silicon anodes and lithium metal anodes, which will improve vehicle range, affordability, and reduced dependence on rare and costly metals. It is already demonstrating automotive-grade durability and significantly higher energy density. The agreement with Nikola extends General Motors‘ utilisation of its fuel cell technology to the class 7/8 semi-truck market and represents a high-volume commercialisation of its leading Hydrotec fuel cell system and complements the company‘s battery-electric propulsion.

“We are growing our presence in multiple high-volume EV segments while building scale to lower battery and fuel cell costs and increase profitability. In addition, applying General Motors‘ electrified technology solutions to the heavy-duty class of commercial vehicles is another important step in fulfilling our vision of a zero-emissions future,” said General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

Nikola will be responsible for the sales and marketing for the Badger and will retain the Nikola Badger brand. Badger production is expected to start in late 2022 at a location to be announced at a later date. 

Nikola remains an independent company. The investment is subject to customary antitrust regulatory approval and closing conditions. The parties anticipate closing the transaction prior to 30 September 2020.