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Photo of Nikola's first semi truck Tre.
Photo of Nikola's first semi truck Tre.

Race for electric trucks is on as Nikola readies prototypes for 2021 launch

  • Nikola and vehicle equipment maker CNH aim to start testing the semi-trucks later this year.
  • Nikola founder Trevor Milton has been accused of making false claims, a charge he denies.

Nikola Corp and vehicle equipment maker CNH Industrial said on Monday they are working to build prototypes of the EV maker's Tre semi-truck, days after a scathing report from short-seller Hindenburg alleged Nikola of 'fraud'.

CNH said it aims to start testing the semi-trucks later this year and hopes to launch the vehicles commercially by the fourth quarter of 2021.

Meanwhile, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is probing Nikola to assess the merits of Hindenburg's allegations that the EV maker misled investors about its business prospects.

(Also read: Bill Gates unsure about electric future for big trucks | Elon Musk hits back)

Nikola, which had accused Hindenburg of manipulating the stock to benefit short-sellers, said its counsel had contacted and briefed the SEC on its concerns regarding the short-seller's report.

The SEC did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

Shares of the electric-truck maker were down about 9% at $32.52 in extended trade.

Hindenburg had shorted the stock last week and said it had gathered enough evidence to show Nikola founder Trevor Milton made false statements about possessing proprietary technology to form partnerships with large automakers.

Hindenburg had also alleged that a seemingly functional truck, Nikola One, was "simply filmed rolling down a big hill" in 2017.

Nikola said it never stated the truck was driving "under its own propulsion" and investors at that time were aware of its technical capabilities.

Last week, automaker General Motors Co took an 11% stake in Nikola and said the two companies will join forces to build electric pickup trucks and fuel cell commercial trucks to take on Tesla Inc.

GM's deal with Nikola gives it scale and validates its technology, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra told investors at an RBC conference on Monday, deferring any questions on the latter to the EV maker.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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