Throughout the last few years, we’ve seen Tesla’s rabid fan base shun out all competition in a questionable fashion. Whether it be hate, mockery, or memes, many degrade both the competition and owners considering vehicles aside from the holy Tesla. This is not that. This is rightfully deserved criticism of a company claiming they’re more than the world.
We’ve been locked into the ever-evolving EV landscape for some time now, seeing companies covering all ends of the spectrum. From solar-powered crowd-funded compact cars like the Sono Sion to off-road utility vehicles like the Bollinger B1, the space is anything but narrow.
What started off as a small environmentally conscious niche quickly became the new norm. With Tesla’s massive and rapid success in the space, everyone was looking to jump aboard. The company not only proved that electric vehicles were profitable, but the customer base was drastically growing.
Striving for more, others planned to go head to head against the head honcho, Tesla. Lucid Motors and Faraday Future both sought to enter the luxury EV market alongside the Model S. In the more affordable arena, Fisker, Byton, and Nio all looked to create mass-market electric vehicles.
Legacy auto manufacturers might have been a bit late to the party, but they certainly took notice. Before long, nearly every automaker announced a transition towards electrification. The Audi E Tron, Mercedes EQC, Jaguar I-Pace, Chevy Bolt, and Porsche Taycan are all cars that took on the prior title of a ‘Tesla Killer’. As it turns out, none of them lived up to that name. People just weren’t looking for electric cars, they were looking for good electric cars.
As we enter this makeshift second generation of EV’s, every automaker looks to improve all-around in price, efficiency, and range. Many are going as far to improve their technology to include over-the-air software updates and advanced adaptive cruise control systems, something that Tesla brought to the table years ago. Volkswagen’s upcoming line of I.D. Series vehicles alongside others like Ford’s Mustang Mach-E look to fill in the gap others couldn’t.
The list of electric automakers is now nearly endless and continuously growing so why do we focus on just a handful? While no one has hit numbers remotely close to Tesla, each car is relatively successful with a customer base of their own. More than a few automotive companies have been intentionally named throughout this piece. Each and every one has more substance than the Nikola Badger.
Nikola Motor’s founder and Chief Executive, Trevor Milton, is certainly a character. Since Nikola’s IPO, Trevor has been active on all social media making constant head-turning statements. Whether it be out of attention or delusion, many of them are far fetched.
“So we’ve been following a lot of these social media accounts trying to figure out what’s going on. Why’s there these crazy amount of people coming after us out of the blue? And come to find out, a lot of them are either paid people that are paid to attack and antagonize to create fear, stoke fear. They have very few followers, sometimes less than a hundred. These are accounts that have numbers with them and other things because other accounts have been taken. So they’re essentially just paid attack handles to create and stoke fear and then other ones are just haters that just hate you no matter what you do because you’re going against Tesla. Never really understood that because I’ve been a Tesla supporter for a long long time. Sure, I disagree with them on things, I educate people. I know a lot about this industry, more than most anyone out there in this world. But it’s like just because I’m educating people on the pros and cons of everything these guys come after you and attack you.”
Let’s clarify a few things. No one is being paid to question Nikola. They do so out of honest skepticism given the company’s lack of output. Why Nikola but not the others? Because none of the others are currently valued at tens of billions of dollars and claim to be up there side by side with Tesla, as a clear plea for attention.
Dear EV community. Nikola and Tesla have forced almost all HD OEM's to pivot into zero emission HD vehicles. We have fought hard for years to change that industry against all odds. Sure we compete but who cares. Give Nikola until #nikolaworld2020 to prove everything we have said
— Trevor Milton (@nikolatrevor) July 3, 2020
Statements like these are so ridiculous I have to question his motives. Does Trevor Milton wholeheartedly believe Nikola has had any influence on automakers? A company who has yet to sell a single EV. A company who last month nearly no one had heard of. One that was best known for years for a baseless lawsuit against Tesla.
Trevor Milton is so full of himself that Nikola’s SEC filing lists their dependency on his presence as a hurdle. Need I remind you, you didn’t know who he was last month.
“We are highly dependent on the services of Trevor R. Milton, our Executive Chairman, and largest stockholder. Mr. Milton is the source of many, if not most, of the ideas and executions driving Nikola. If Mr. Milton were to discontinue his service to us due to death, disability or any other reason, we would be significantly disadvantaged.”
The Chief Executive has stated that he doesn’t believe they can get voice commands ready in time for market, yet we are to believe a 600 mile fuel cell truck with 906 horsepower will be? In the six years since their inception, Nikola Motor has shown little to no proven technology. In fact, Bloomberg revealed that their original FCEV Semi was unveiled inoperable with no fuel cell technology.
Conflicting with what Trevor Milton would like to believe, my concern with Nikola is unrelated to Tesla. Contrary, if you asked me last year I would have told you I’d be trading in my Model S for a Porsche Taycan (Sadly, in my opinion, they under-delivered.) I’m a firm believer that Tesla cannot have 100% market share so others must succeed exponentially in the space if we have any hope of transitioning towards a fully sustainable future.
My concern with Nikola is not their competition, it’s not the fact that they run hydrogen, it’s not the fact that they’re nearly a decade away from completing their self stated goals, it’s that they’re being treated as a success story before hitting any set of accomplishments. Since their IPO, Nikola’s market cap has hovered around Tesla’s 2016 market cap. In 2016 Tesla delivered 76,230 cars.
One thing Trevor Milton has been is honest. All numbers shared by Nikola Motors seems to be within reason. They’re just nothing to write home about. The world is eagerly attempting to get in early on the ‘next Tesla’ but this just isn’t it.
Upon a hyped-up debut, the Nikola Badger only sustained an average of 1,500 reservations a day for the first couple of days, according to high king Trevor Milton himself. For comparison, the loathed Tesla Cybertruck did 200,000 in the same period of time.
I truly hope Nikola succeeds, and I think they will, to an extent. Their two largest sellers, the Tre and Badger, will both not be produced by Nikola, rather another manufacturer. Instead, Nikola will solely provide the technology involved (which we’ve yet to see) for those vehicles. Their true business goes back to their roots, semi-trucks. The hydrogen-powered Nikola One and Two will be developed by the company in their Arizona factory, which is set to begin construction at the end of this month.
Interest in hydrogen powered semi trucks has been proven. The long-haul trucking industry is one of the few where hydrogen can come out on top, if done right. Massive companies like Anheuser-Busch have already placed their Nikola One and Two orders.
I don’t question their ability to deliver, I question Trevor’s decision to constantly oversell what Nikola Motors truly is. Maybe Nikola does have some proprietary industry leading technology. But you can’t fault our skepticism while displaying nothing of value. Until we see it, I’m not one to believe in the tooth fairy.
Nikola Motor has talked the talk but we have yet to see them walk the walk. Until that day, it is reasonable to remain skeptical. Maybe Nikola Motors isn’t a scam, but it’s expectations are certainly being blown out of anything realistic. I believe Trevor Milton believes in himself and his vision entirely. Choosing his words carefully, he hypes up his company while making it seem larger than it actually is. He plays the victim card through lawsuits and tweets while simultaneously stirring the pot. Trevor Milton is a marketing genius who upsold an entire company.
So dear Trevor, God among men, please unblock us. Whether intentional or not, I miss laughing at your far-fetched tweets. I miss the enthusiasm and motivation. After all, you’ve proven just about anyone can make it. When Nikola has its day in the big leagues, I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. But shunning the EV community and media certainly wont help you achieve your goals. I’m not out to get you and downplay a sustainable company, I’m just calling it how I see it. Show me something more. Go clean a beach and prove to us you stand for what you claim.