GM\u2019s Going to Build the Nikola Badger Electric Pickup Truck

Electric and fuel cell pickup truck maker Nikola just got a $2 billion shot in the swing arm from a new strategic partnership with General Motors. GM announced this morning that the two companies formed the partnership to build the Badger pickup, a sleek new model due in 2022 powered by your choice of electric batteries or fuel cell technology.

GM said in the deal’s announcement that it would be “a strategic partnership that begins with the Nikola Badger and carries cost reductions through Nikola’s programs, including: Nikola Badger, Nikola Tre, Nikola One, Nikola Two and NZT. As part of the agreement, Nikola will utilize General Motors’ Ultium battery system and Hydrotec fuel cell technology, representing a key commercialization milestone for General Motors.”

Those other Nikola-badged products are big semis, an area Nikola specializes in. Nikola even has a side-by-side and a personal watercraft in the works.

As for the pickup, GM said it would “engineer, homologate, validate and manufacture the Nikola Badger battery electric and fuel cell versions.” So GM will engineer and build the truck and equip it with its batteries or fuel cells, what is Nikola contributing, a cool design that looks like the Rivian?

Nikola “…anticipates saving over $4 billion in battery and powertrain costs over 10 years and over $1 billion in engineering and validation costs,” while GM “…expects to receive in excess of $4 billion of benefits between the equity value of the shares, contract manufacturing of the Badger, supply contracts for batteries and fuel cells, and EV credits retained over the life of the contract.”

We don’t have specs yet for the Badger but Nikola lists claims on its website, all of which are preceded by the words “Up To:” Up To 980 ft lbs of torque, Up To 906 hp, Up To 600 miles range and a claimed 0-60 time of 2.9 seconds. It made those claims before the deal with GM, so no word yet on how the GM drivetrain will effect performance.

“This strategic partnership with Nikola, an industry leading disrupter, continues the broader deployment of General Motors’ all-new Ultium battery and Hydrotec fuel cell systems,” said General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “We are growing our presence in multiple high-volume EV segments while building scale to lower battery and fuel cell costs and increase profitability. In addition, applying General Motors’ electrified technology solutions to the heavy-duty class of commercial vehicles is another important step in fulfilling our vision of a zero-emissions future.”

So GM gets a partner/customer for its technology and Nikola gets GM tech.

Nikola said it will “exchange $2 billion in newly issued common stock for the in-kind services and access to General Motors’ global safety-tested and validated parts and components… General Motors will engineer, homologate, validate and manufacture the Nikola Badger battery electric and fuel cell versions.”

The deal extends to fuel cell-powered 18-wheelers, too.

”The agreement with Nikola extends General Motors’ utilization of its fuel cell technology to the Class 7/8 semi-truck market and represents a high-volume commercialization of its leading Hydrotec fuel cell system and complements the company’s battery-electric propulsion. Fuel cells will become increasingly important to the semi-truck market because they are more efficient than gas or diesel. General Motors sees additional growth opportunities in multiple transportation, stationary and mobile-power end markets.”

You may not see Nikola Badgers in GM showrooms, since GM said Nikola will be responsible for sales and marketing of the Badger.

The deal shows just how quickly the marketplace is moving toward electric and fuel cell alternatives. Nikola was founded in 2015 and first announced the Badger just seven months ago. We will get to see one Dec. 3-5 at an event titled Nikola World 2020 at the company’s headquarters in Phoenix. Looking forward to that.

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