Nikola lowers electric truck production targets

Nikola Corp. is dialing back projected output of its first commercial zero-emission vehicles and mulling another capital raise to fund investment in facilities such as a planned hydrogen-fueling network.

The startup said it now expects to deliver 100 battery-electric Tre semis to customers this year, down from a previous target of 600.

Nikola blamed the global pandemic and supply-chain issues for the drop in planned production volumes.

The Phoenix-based company is one of a number of newer and legacy automakers developing clean-energy commercial vehicles and also betting on fuel cells as a viable option for long-distance transportation.

While it is also working on battery-electric big rigs, Nikola’s main focus is hydrogen-powered fuel-cell trucks, a nascent field with competition from Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai Motor Co. and and its own supplier, General Motors Co.

Nikola said it aims to deliver 1,200 BEV trucks next year and 3,500 in 2023. It plans to start full production of the Tre with partner Iveco in Ulm, Germany, in the final quarter of this year and is building a plant in Arizona to manufacture fuel cell-vehicles.

Shares of the company sank in post-market trading after Chief Financial Officer Kim Brady said Nikola was on track to spend all capital allocated for a new factory and hydrogen fueling stations this year — and could seek to tap the market to raise more funds.

The stock declined as much as 3.7% following Brady’s comments. Earlier Nikola’s shares closed down 6.8% to $19.72.

As of Dec. 31, Nikola had cash and restricted cash totaling $845.3 million and about 450 employees, according to a securities filing.

The company, whose market value once briefly topped Ford Motor Co.’s last year, reported a narrower-than-expected loss for its latest quarter. It posted an adjusted loss Thursday of 17 cents a share in the fourth quarter, compared with analysts’ consensus estimate for a 24-cent loss and a 16-cent loss in the year-earlier period.

Nikola kept investors guessing about a partner for its fuel network after missing a self-imposed year-end deadline.

It plans to develop as many as 700 hydrogen stations in the U.S. and originally promised to find a co-development partner in 2020. While it did not set a new timeline, company executives said discussions with multiple potential partners have intensified in recent weeks.