Sources close to the embattled fuel cell truck manufacturer are reporting that founder Trevor Milton has resigned as executive chairman of Nikola Motor (NASDAQ: NKLA) and has departed the company effective immediately.
He will remain as one of the company’s largest shareholders, but will not have a say in how the company is managed going forward. Sources tell FreightWaves that the decision was Milton’s, in an effort to protect the company and his investment. Milton owns approximately 82 million shares or 20% of the company, worth about $2.8 billion.
Milton created a vision for a hydrogen-powered trucking industry. His comments about the capabilities of Nikola and the hydrogen-powered trucking network he planned to build have occasionally stretched beyond what is physically possible, leaving many detractors to highlight these statements as proof that the company is a scam.
Others, including many in the industry and suppliers that partnered with the company, saw a firm with a grand vision and opportunity to make a major impact on the future of transportation. If successful, Nikola could greatly reduce the carbon footprint from one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA estimates that 6.4% of all such emissions in the U.S. come from medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
Before the company went public, few had heard of Nikola outside of the heavy-duty trucking industry. The company completed a reverse merger IPO or SPAC offering in June, which gave the company a valuation higher than Ford’s. Nikola has yet to mass produce a product, and all of its revenue to date came from selling solar panel installation services to Milton.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to FreightWaves for updates.