Hydrogen and electric truck company founder jailed for fraud
By Sourced Externally
December 21, 2023
The founder of a US company which plans to mass-produce electric and hydrogen trucks has been sentenced to four years in jail, after misleading investors about the firm’s products and technology.
Industry publication Automotive News reports Trevor Milton – the founder of Nikola Corporation – was sentenced after a three-year-long trial, instigated in September 2020 following accusations of fraudulent statements regarding the company’s progress in developing its electric and hydrogen trucks.
Mr Milton reportedly “greatly exaggerated” the capabilities of the Nikola One prototype hydrogen truck, telling potential investors it was a fully functional vehicle despite not being able to drive at the time due to missing parts.
After investigations into Mr Milton’s conduct were launched in September 2020 by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, Mr Milton was indicted by a US federal grand jury in July 2021.
In October 2022, Mr Milton was convicted on one count of securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud with his sentencing delayed until this week.
It is understood Nikola has delivered less than 300 electric trucks since it was founded in 2014 – while no hydrogen-powered examples have been produced since its first concept was unveiled in 2016.
Less than a month before the first accusations of false statements were made against Nikola, US car giant General Motors acquired a 11 per cent stake in the firm – later selling its shares after just two months in the wake of the allegations.
The Phoenix-based company had also planned to introduce a pick-up with the choice of electric or hydrogen power – known as the Badger – though the model was cancelled in 2020, following GM’s removal of financial support.
Automotive News reports Mr Milton is currently free on bail while he appeals the conviction.