Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 22

last mile

T R U C K M A K E R TA K E S S T R AT E G I C R O U T E
Nikola's journey from notion to Nasdaq
BY MARCUS AMICK

I

n just six years Nikola Motor has gone from an idea conceived
in a basement to a startup hunting for cash to a globally merged
company headed for a listing on the Nasdaq. Along the way,
founder and CEO Trevor Milton realized the shortest path to
success is a straight line - more specifically, a vertical one.
It's a journey that has involved a very strategic approach to
ensuring Nikola's long-term profitability amid the challenges
new mobility startups face to remain financially sustainable.
Since officially launching in 2016, the Phoenix-based company
- which builds hydrogen- and electric-powered trucks - has

Nikola Motor builds vehicles such as its electric Badger, above, and
hydrogen-electric trucks in partnership with Anheuser-Busch.

made vertical integrations a core part of its business
strategy while continuing to expand.
"One of the most important factors with Nikola
is that we did vertical integration with everything," Milton tells Shift. "Everything - from
our supply chain for the truck, to the production of the hydrogen, to the delivery of
the fuel to the customer, to the service, to
the warranty - will all be controlled and
housed by Nikola."
The strategy has helped Nikola achieve a
$3.3 billion valuation.
In March the company merged with the publicly held investment and advisory firm VectoIQ.
22

shift * april 2020

A pivotal component of Nikola's business model is solidifying
strategic investment partnerships with key suppliers to help
lower the cost of building trucks.
"There are tens of thousands of parts on a truck that have
gone through certification at one point in its life," explains
Milton. "Those parts are all a couple of million dollars to certify,
each, and they take one to two years [to build]. With the partnership approach we were able to avoid all of that."
Nikola's growing list of major supply partners includes CNH
Industrial's truck division, Iveco, which engineers Nikola's braking and stability control systems; NEL, the company's hydrogen
fueling partner; Bosch, which provides a lot of the software and
engineering systems for Nikola trucks; Ryder System, which will
handle service and maintenance for all Nikola fleets in the U.S.;
and Meritor, which provides regenerative braking systems for
Nikola vehicles.
Iveco will also manufacture the first Nikola Tre Class 8
trucks from its plant in Ulm, Germany.
In addition to a robust supply chain, Milton attributes
Nikola's success to the lower cost of hydrogen, in comparison with diesel fuel, and some unpredictable factors
in the world of transportation.
"The political winds were perfect for us," says the Nikola
CEO. "The Volkswagen 'Dieselgate' was perfect for our business case. All these things happen, and without them, I don't
think we would be here." n



Shift Magazine - April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Shift Magazine - April 2020

Shift Magazine - April 2020
From the Editor
Did You Know?
Into the Unknown
Q &A
The Coasts With the Most
And the Honorees Are ...
Trategic Startups
Last Mile
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Intro
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Shift Magazine - April 2020
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Cover2
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 3
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - From the Editor
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Did You Know?
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Into the Unknown
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 7
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Q &A
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 9
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - The Coasts With the Most
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 11
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - And the Honorees Are ...
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 13
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 14
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 15
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 16
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 17
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 18
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 19
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - 20
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Trategic Startups
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Last Mile
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Cover3
Shift Magazine - April 2020 - Cover4
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