GM fuel cells coming to Nikola through new partnership

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Updated Jan 29, 2021

Nikola Motor Company has strengthened its partnership with General Motors.

The two businesses announced Monday the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a global supply agreement related to the integration of GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell system into Nikola’s commercial semi-trucks. Nikola says this supersedes and replaces the transaction previously announced between the companies in September.

Under the terms of the MOU, Nikola and GM will work together to integrate GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology into Nikola’s Class 7 and Class 8 zero-emission semi-trucks for the medium- and long-haul trucking sectors. Nikola reiterates that it expects to begin testing production-engineered prototypes of its hydrogen fuel-cell powered trucks by the end of 2021, with testing for the beta prototypes expected to begin in the first half of 2022.

Nikola and GM also will discuss the potential for using GM’s versatile Ultium battery system in Nikola’s Class 7 and Class 8 vehicles.

“We are excited to take this important step with GM, which provides an opportunity to leverage the resources, strengths and talent of both companies,” says Mark Russell, Nikola CEO. “Heavy trucks remain our core business and we are 100 percent focused on hitting our development milestones to bring clean hydrogen and battery-electric commercial trucks to market.

He adds, “We believe fuel-cells will become increasingly important to the semi-truck market, as they are more efficient than gas or diesel and are lightweight compared to batteries for long hauls. By working with GM, we are reinforcing our companies’ shared commitment to a zero-emission future.”

The companies add the new agreement is subject to negotiation and execution of definitive documentation acceptable to both parties. The MOU does not include the previously contemplated GM equity stake in Nikola or development of the Nikola Badger. And, as previously announced, the Nikola Badger program was dependent on an OEM partnership. Nikola will refund all previously submitted order deposits for the Nikola Badger, the company says.

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