Short-Seller Accuses Nikola of Lying, Stocks Fall 10%

Hindenburg Research, a short-seller that has previously released damning reports on companies and profited from the stock prices falling, has released a report charging Nikola of parlaying an “ocean of lies” into a partnership with GM. Nikola stocks have since fallen steeply. 

This week, GM announced a large investment in Nikola that would see the startup use Ultium battery technology for the Nikola Badger, an electric pickup truck.

Hindenburg Research has accused Nikola of being a fraud and leveled a number of specific allegations against the company. It says that a spokesperson from one of Nikola’s former partners, Powercell AB, called its electric and hydrogen technology “hot air” and generally accuses the company of being vapourware.

It’s not a difficult position to support given that small manufacturers have been overpromising and wheeling and dealing since cars first hit the road. Indeed, many of the accusations are supported by media reports and the article seems to have had the intended impact.

As Hindenburg discloses after its list of indictments “we have taken a short position in shares of Nikola Corp. This report represents our opinion, and we encourage every reader to do their own due diligence.”

For its part, Nikola refutes the claim that it a fraud sitting on a throne of lies, or whatever.

“Nikola has been vetted by some of the world’s most credible companies and investors,” a spokesperson told MarketWatch. “We are on a path to success and will not waver based on a report filled with misleading information attempting to manipulate our stock.”

Nikola’s CEO, Trevor Milton, also responded on Twitter calling the article “a hit job.”

Which, to be fair, they would. A number of EV start-ups have risen and fallen in the past few years. It seems, though, that GM is unbothered by the report.

“We are fully confident in the value we will create by working together,” GM told the Financial Times. It may also help that although GM’s investment is reportedly worth $2 billion, it is not investing any actual cash.

That Nikola’s battery and hydrogen technology are not all they were cracked up to be may also not be such a big problem, since Nikola appears to be using Ultium technology and GM is partnered with Honda for fuel cell research.

As initial reports suggested, having a small EV company that collects regulatory credits in its back pocket may be useful as EPA standards grow harder to meet.

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