Nikola's CEO sees a path ahead for his company even if the embattled electric-truck startup is unable to come to terms with General Motors on a proposed strategic partnership.
Talks between the two companies are ongoing, but if a tentative technology-sharing and manufacturing deal announced last month falls apart, Nikola will revert to a "base plan" without GM’s help, CEO Mark Russell said in an interview Thursday.
"We have the ability and we have a base plan of doing it ourselves. If we have a partner, that just enables us to consider going faster and helps reduce the risk," he said. "We have proved that over the years that we are a partnership company when those things are available to us."
GM spokesman Jim Cain declined to comment.
The Phoenix-based company’s relationship with its would-be partner has been the subject of intense scrutiny since Nikola and its founder and former Chairman, Trevor Milton, were accused of deception. Both the company and Milton have denied those claims.
GM is eyeing an 11 percent stake in Nikola as part of a cash-free deal in exchange for providing access to fuel cell technology and for manufacturing the startup’s electric pickup. Nikola has stopped referring to that vehicle, called the Badger, in its public statements as talks continue with GM ahead of a Dec. 3 deadline.