Nikola’s Fuel-Cell Pact With Bosch Leaves GM Deal in Limbo – BNN Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Nikola Corp., the pre-production electric-truck maker, said it is moving ahead with plans to use fuel cells supplied by a strategic partner, but the deal appears to leave its relationship with General Motors Co. in limbo. An agreement announced Thursday formalizes Nikola’s plans to tap leading German auto supplier Bosch’s fuel-cell systems for its zero-emission trucks. But there was no mention of GM in the statement, which the EV startup has previously said was a potential supplier of the hydrogen-based technology. 

“After extensive analysis of the best options out there, we are proud to enter into this strategic relationship with Bosch,” said Nikola Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell in the announcement.  Nikola and GM struck a non-binding deal last November to discuss such a technology-sharing partnership, but the status of those talks is unclear. A GM spokesman said that “no definitive agreement” is in place in reference to his company’s non-binding deal with Nikola.

Meanwhile, Nikola said its pact with Bosch doesn’t affect its relationship with other fuel-cell suppliers. “We will continue to work with various suppliers of fuel-cell components and systems, as well as hydrogen storage and fueling,” a Nikola spokeswoman said.  But one analyst said GM’s absence in Nikola’s plan to move into production of its first commercial truck signals trouble for a once-promising partnership between the startup and the automotive giant. 

“It appears for now GM may not provide initial fuel-cell capability” to Nikola, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak in a note following the news.   Manufacturing Begins Under the new agreement, Bosch will supply both fully assembled fuel-cell power modules and major components to Nikola.

The fuel-cell power module assembly will begin at Nikola’s factory in Coolidge, Arizona, in 2023, and Nikola expects the design will enable a range of up to 500 miles for the vehicles that use the technology. The new pact on Thursday built on Nikola’s existing relationship with Bosch, an early investor. Nikola said last year that Bosch will supply fuel cells to power planned European-built trucks. 

The production of the U.S. trucks will be at Nikola’s Coolidge plant, which broke ground last July and completed the initial construction phase last quarter. Nikola said on Thursday that it plans to expand the Coolidge facility by 50,000 square feet (about 4,650 square meters) and add up to 50 jobs.  Last month, Nikola lowered its initial delivery projections to as few as 25 electric vehicles this year, citing supply chain issues.

In Thursday’s announcement, Nikola said it will work together with Bosch on sourcing of components.  

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