Nikola Corporation, which specializes in battery-electric and hydrogen trucks and powersports vehicles, announced March 3 they would merge with VectoIQ, a special purpose acquisition firm founded by former GM vice chairman Steve Girsky. Girsky founded VictoIQ in 2016 as a partner for companies dedicated towards developing autonomous and “mobility as a service” vehicles.
VectoIQ is also notable for its status as a publicly traded corporation listed on the NASDAQ under ticker sign VTIQ. The combined company, which will keep Nikola Corporation’s name, will be listed as “NKLA.” The pro forma enterprise value of the merger is $3.3 billion.
“We are on a roll,” said Nikola CEO Trevor Milton in a statement. “You couldn’t ask for better news for the energy and tech industry.” He also signaled his next priority for the company: sales. “We now need to double down and speed up the timelines and get to market,” said Milton. According to the company, Nikola currently has 14,000 pre-orders worth more than $10 billion.
“We couldn’t be happier to have Steve Girsky join our board,” Milton added.
Milton will remain CEO of the combined Nikola Corp, while current Nikola President Mark Russell will become CEO of Nikola. Stephen Girsky will join the board of directors.
“In our two-year quest to find a partner that was a proven technology leader and focused on making a global difference, Nikola was the clear winner,” said Girsky.
Milton founded Nikola in 2016 to make zero-emission vehicles, featuring battery-powered and hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks. Milton apparently chose the name “Nikola” for his company as a cheeky jab at rival automaker Tesla Motors. The year before Nikola was founded, Tesla CEO Elon Musk criticized fuel cell technology at the Automotive World News Congress, calling hydrogen-powered cars “incredibly dumb.” (Both companies are named for Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla.)
In his statement, Milton appeared to indulge in what may have been a dig at Musk: “The world is transitioning to zero emission platforms and Nikola is the leader for heavy duty vehicles. We believe we have a differentiated business model built on economics, not government subsidies.” Aside from state and regional subsidies from building factories in the United States, Tesla received a federal electric vehicle tax credit for its first 200,000 units sold. Tesla no longer receives that credit.