Introduction: The story of Nikola founder, Trevor Milton.
Trevor Milton, the founder of Nikola Motor Company, was convicted on three charges of fraud. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to pay $10 million in restitution.
The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2017 after falling victim to the same fate as many other electric car start-ups. The company had raised $2 billion from investors, but they still couldn’t get their product off the ground. This is a story of how one man’s greed caused a promising company to fall apart and left many people without jobs.
In 2020, the SEC began investigating Nikola after a research company accused them of staging an “elaborate ruse” to mislead people about the status of their electric semi, Nikola One. The company published a video to show the truck “driving on the road at a high rate of speed,” but Hindenburg said the truck was actually towed to the top of a hill on a remote stretch of road and simply filmed it rolling down. The company ended up paying $125 million to settle civil charges leveled by the SEC in 2021.
During the trial, Milton’s defence lawyer argued that the video was just “special effects” and that “it’s not a crime to use special effects.” However, prosecutors pointed out several other false claims in Milton’s testimony; since he was an active user of Twitter. According to The Times, prosecutors said Milton also lied about having “binding contracts with trucking companies” that in reality were cancellable reservations for vehicles. Prosecutors also cited Milton’s claims about making “green hydrogen” when they filed the case against him earlier this year.
The company’s success and its pivot to hydrogen fuel cell technology
Nikola was founded by Trevor Milton and the company’s goal was to build electric trucks. The company had raised over $2 billion from investors and potential customers before it pivoted to hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Nikola’s success story is an interesting one. It started with the idea of building electric trucks, but once it pivoted to hydrogen fuel cell technology, the company’s founder Trevor Milton was convicted on three charges of fraud.
It is a company that promised to revolutionize the trucking industry with a hydrogen-powered semi-truck. They were supposed to produce their first truck in 2019 and start delivering it in 2020. But, it all turned out as another fraud.
This is not the first time Nikola has fooled investors. The company’s founder, Trevor Milton, has been convicted on three charges of fraud in 2017 for falsely claiming he had sold $200 million worth of fuel cell systems to China. The company has been sued for allegedly making false and misleading claims about its technology.