Nikola’s whistleblower got rich and could get richer

Paul Lackey worked as a contractor for Nikola in the early days of the electric truck business. On the witness stand in Trevor Milton’s fraud trial this week, he spoke of a founder more interested in making money than cleaning up the environment.

But Lackey wasn’t exactly a dream witness for the prosecution. He raised around $600,000 in proceeds from the stock sale after lining up with short sellers who nearly crushed the startup.

As the first prosecution witness on Tuesday in a trial expected to last four to five weeks, Lackey described an environment in which he and other contract engineers worked on an early natural gas and electric prototype of the battery-powered truck. fuel-powered Nikola One, since cancelled. Lackey said the truck was to be pushed onto the stage for its reveal in December 2016.

The Nikola One hydrogen fuel cell prototype is at issue in Trevor Milton’s fraud lawsuit.

Milton told the public that day that the truck was missing some parts. But he maintained it was “not a pusher” and capable of operating under its own power. This claim and a subsequent video of the truck rolling down a hill are key to the government’s case. They are trying to show a pattern of Milton lying to entice investors into buying Nikola shares.

Money before the environment

“When we talked about making the zero-emission prototype, Mr Milton was dismissive. He said: ‘I don’t care about the environment. I just want to make money,” Lackey said, “I was shocked. In the days of climate change, I was a bright-eyed idealist.

But under cross-examination by Milton’s attorney, Ken Caruso, Lackey admitted he was the whistleblower who alerted the Securities and Exchange Commission about Nikola.

Later he worked with Hindenburg Research, the short seller whose report on Nikola led to Milton’s resignation. It also caused General Motors to drop a $2 billion manufacturing partnership with the startup. Lackey said he didn’t know how much Hindenburg was making by betting that Nikola’s stock price would fall. But he was paid $600,000.

“And you’ll win more than the $600,000 you’ve already won, right?” asked Caruso.

“I could,” Lackey replied.

Federal whistleblowers can make a lot of money based on the quality of information they provide. The SEC case against Milton is on hold until the end of his criminal trial. It’s unclear if Lackey is eligible for 10% to 30% of the $125 million fine that Nikola is paying the SEC. If so, it could be $12.5 million or more.

Volvo hits the clicker on electric trucks

If there’s a horse race between traditional truck manufacturers to sell the most electric trucks, Volvo Trucks North America is winning. Or place. It definitely shows.

The Sweden-based equipment manufacturer this week placed an order for 40 VNR electric trucks with 4 Gen Logistics, based in Rialto, California. The trucks will make drayage trips from the Port of Long Beach to California’s Inland Empire and back.

Volvo VNR electric truck
A Volvo VNR Electric is dressed for 4 Gen logistics. (Photo: Volvo Trucks North America)

Each Generation 4 truck qualified for a $150,000 voucher through California’s Hybrid and Zero Emission Trucks and Buses (HVIP) Voucher Incentive Project and the examination of the reduction of air pollution from mobile sources. And 4 Gen gets an additional Volvo VNR Electric from the Volvo LIGHTS project. This makes a total of 41 electric trucks.

Volvo appears to have edged out Chinese truckmaker BYD, whose first-generation electric trucks in its 4 Gen fleet are getting long in the teeth. The second-generation VNR Electric more than doubles the 125-mile range of aging BYD trucks.

The VNR Electric travels up to 275 miles between charges. 4 Gen will operate them two shifts per day, making up to six trips to and from the Port of Long Beach and 4 Gen Logistics headquarters in Rialto.

talk about sales

Since Volvo advertises nearly every order it receives for a battery-powered truck, it seems more active than rival Daimler Truck North America. DTNA only announces orders for electric trucks if its customers want them. Peterbilt and Kenworth chronicle virtually all electric truck sales, as does Mack Trucks with its battery-powered Class 8 LR electric garbage truck.

Simple math suggests that a May order from Sysco Corp. for up to 800 eCascadia Freightliner until 2026 and an order for 200 units from Canadian group Pride would likely give DTNA a lead.

Still, it’s worth remembering that this is a nascent market for Class 8 electric trucks. Double-digit orders are more common than triple-digit reservations. Four-digit commands can be somewhat off.

Separately, Volvo announced on Wednesday that it is beginning mass production of electric versions of its FH, FM and FMX heavy-duty trucks in Europe. The three models account for about two-thirds of the company’s sales.

Volvo workers in Sweden
Volvo Group workers during the manufacture of heavy electric trucks in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo: Volvo Group)

In the news…

New CFO at Hyliion

Hyliion Holdings has a new chief financial officer, railroad veteran Jon Panzer. He joins Union Pacific’s hybrid powertrain startup His predecessor, Sherri Baker, left the company in what’s called a “termination of convenience.”

CEO Thomas Healy told me that the separation was amicable, or at least that there was no disagreement with the company or its board of directors over operations, policies or issues regarding the accounting policies or practices. Baker gets everything she was promised financially as long as she doesn’t sue Hyliion, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

Panzer receives a cash signing bonus of $350,000 and will earn $450,000 per year and a pro-rated portion of 200,000 Hyliion shares.

Collaboration between Harbinger and Wabash

Harbinger, a relative newcomer to the Class 4-7 electric utility vehicle space, is a bit fuzzy about its funding and how it plans to pursue its claim to be at cost parity with diesel powertrains. on a purchase basis.

But it has caught the interest of Wabash, the trailer maker that is increasingly focusing on last-mile delivery. Wabash isn’t writing checks to Harbinger at this point, but he’s collaborating on… something. Harbinger co-founder and CEO John Harris has worked at Boeing, Faraday Future and Xos Trucks.

Harbinger Electric Truck Concept Vehicle
A Harbinger medium-duty truck from startup OEM. (Photo: harbinger)

Atlis moves closer to public trading

Public trading is approaching for Atlis Motor Vehicles, which this week suspended crowdfunded stock sales pending the SEC’s green light to trade publicly. The latest Reg A+ round funding priced the stock at $27.50 per share, which is close to what Atlis expects to price its mini-IPO.

Whether that will hold up in a volatile stock market remains to be seen. Some early investors who bought at 29 cents a share should do well. Atlis avoided special-purpose acquisition companies offering to sponsor his public debut. Instead, he opted to sell his shares to over 20,000 unqualified traders – mostly retailers – raising over $32 million.

Atlis says it has signed contracts for more than 24,000 of its XT trucks with another 60,000 non-binding reservations. Atlis has sought SEC approval for its July 19 IPO.

Preview at IAA Transportation

The global commercial vehicle industry is meeting in person for the first time since 2018 next week at IAA Transportation, the leading trade fair for trucks, buses and professional equipment in Hannover, Germany. A green tint is apparent in pre-show announcements.

ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Solutions division is working with Freudenberg e-Power Systems on an integrated fuel cell “power pack” for commercial vehicles. Freudenberg will offer scalable power supply systems in kit form with different power outputs; ZF will offer complete electrical transmission systems up to 360 kilowatts of continuous power.

Rendering of the ZF-Freudenberg fuel cell project
ZF and Freudenberg are developing integrated fuel cell eDrive systems for commercial vehicles. (Photo: ZF Commercial Vehicle Solutions)

Cummins will show the first fruits of its recent $3.7 billion merger with Meritor Inc. Meritor’s 17Xe powertrain assembled with a Cummins battery system is designed for heavy-duty trucks in the 4×2 and 6×2 segments. has the capacity to support 44 tons (98,560 pounds) or more gross combined weight.

Truck Tech will report on the IAA next Friday with coverage on during media days Monday and Tuesday.

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About Catherine Sturm

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