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COOLIDGE — Nikola Corporation is still on track to complete its Coolidge facility by the end of 2021, company officials say.

In a third-quarter report released Monday, the zero-emissions transportation company said that site preparations had begun in August and that last month, the company began awarding building subcontracts. By the end of November, Nikola expects the site work will include utilities and foundation prep, with construction beginning in December.

“In the third quarter of 2020, Nikola made significant progress on key milestones,” said Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive officer. “I look forward to building on our momentum as we execute our strategy and lay the groundwork to become an integrated zero-emissions transportation solutions leader.”

The electric and hydrogen trucks that the Coolidge plant is to manufacture are still in prototype phase but Nikola said it is hoping to have finished vehicles by the end of the year, with a second batch of prototype in the first quarter of 2021.

Nikola came under fire earlier this year after fraud allegations by Hindenburg Research led to investigations and prompted founder Trevor Milton to step down as company chairman. Accusations included staging the Nikola One prototype to merely appear functional by having it roll down a hill; however, Hindenburg also admitted it stood to gain financially from any drop in the Nikola stock price. The company and its founder were issued grand jury subpoenas from the Department of Justice and the New York county district attorney’s office in September.

A September agreement with General Motors appears to be on hold as fall-out from the controversy. Steve Girsky was named as the new chairman in September. Last month, the company brought on two executives: Steve Shindler, who will be chair of the Audit Committee, and Bruce Smith as a new independent director.

In its report, Nikola wrote that the company was “committed to strengthening its corporate governance practices.”

The company ended the third quarter with $908 million after a loss of $117 million over that period, a significant increase from the $13 million in losses a year prior. However, the Nikola report released Monday argued “the best way to evaluate its results is to monitor the company’s progress towards achieving its milestones,” including the Coolidge plant.

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Aaron Dorman is a reporter covering Coolidge and the surrounding area. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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