Nikola Motors Raises $100 Million In New Funds

AUG 10 2018 BY MARK KANE 75

Nikola Motor Company, a developer of hydrogen fuel cell semis, raised more than $100 million as part of $200 million Series C.

The company presents a promising perspective for the future and encourages that the current round of financing is expected to become oversubscribed – “With a $1.1 billion pre-money valuation, Nikola Motor Company’s emissions-free future is looking very bright.

In 2019 in Phoenix, Nikola intends to hold an event, where customers, suppliers, media and industry insiders will be able to see all the latest Nikola products unveiled and in action. The main products, of course, are the hydrogen fuel cell trucks with range of up to 1,200 miles and refilled within 20 minutes. Pilot production is scheduled for 2020, while full production will start in 2021.

The total value of non-binding pre-order reservations is estimated by the company at $11 billion.

By 2021 Nikola will install first 14 hydrogen stations, while by 2028 the network in U.S. and Canada should consist of more than 700 stations.

Nikola Motor Company listed many milestones achieved in 2018:

  • we have kicked-off plans to build the largest hydrogen network in the world with NEL
  • secured a massive 800-truck order commitment from Anheuser-Busch
  • developed the most energy dense battery system on the market with almost 400 watt hours per liter
  • engineered a 240 kW fuel cell
  • kicked-off electric vehicle stability controls and electric ABS with WABCO
  • designed a thermo-management and HVAC system with MAHLE
  • finalized the most advanced class-8 independent suspension on the market with Meritor
  • relocated our company to Arizona to build our new 150,000 sq. ft. headquarters

Nikola CEO Trevor Milton said:

“Nikola’s business model has been vetted, and the investment world is taking notice.”

Nikola CFO Kim Brady said:

“To say we have come a long way in 2018 is an understatement. Now imagine Nikola in 2019. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this company’s story?”

Phillips Long Haul Commercial

Want to see the Nikola truck? Here is a teaser with our new Phillips commercial. Hope you enjoy! We are working hard at preparing our full production unit which will be unveiled later this year and tested with fleets. Get ready for the best year we have ever had at Nikola.

Posted by Nikola Motor Company on Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Categories: Trucks

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75 Comments on "Nikola Motors Raises $100 Million In New Funds"

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What is the difference between this semi and the one from Toyota?
How can Nikola drive 1200 miles when Toyota with the “same” technology only does 300 miles.

Ask them then let us know.

The one from Nikola has probably 3 or 4 times more hydrogen stored on board.

New Toyota Project Portal has 60 kg tank.

Nikola tank is reported some 100 kg H2. Maybe more in production version, I don’t know.

As there is no EPA mpg testing for trucks, you can claim whatever range really.

I imagine more hydrogen storage tanks can be added to increase the range.

Toyota one is based on Port of Long Beach needs as it is where immediate demand is for zero tailpipe emission trucking. You don’t need much more than 300 miles in worst case scenario for drayage operations to deliver goods from port to warehouse nearby.

Nicola is aimed at OTR long range trucking. So you need more range, maybe dedicated design to fit tanks and better aero for highway speeds. But adding more tanks is relatively cheap, some $20/kWh, so you can always do it if there is need.

20 $/kWh is a very optimistic future projection, not what hydrogen tanks cost today.

“How can Nikola drive 1200 miles when Toyota with the “same” technology only does 300 miles.” ?

By fearlessly defying the laws of physics. 😆 Same as any claim supporting the “hydrogen economy” hoax.

I dunno if Nikola’s absurd claims are part of an outright scam, or just a case of extreme cluelessness. Like Faraday Future, it’s hard to tell, and either way, it’s a sham company.

“Nikola’s business model has been vetted, and the investment world is taking notice.”

Let’s see, the business model according to Nicola:

“The Nikola One truck leasing program costs $4000 to $5000 per month, depending on which truck configuration and options the customer chooses. The first million miles of fuel is included with every truck sale, offsetting 100% of the monthly lease for every owner”.

A 100k/year long haul truck would consume ~15500 kilo’s of hydrogen per year (6MPKG)@ $16/kg= ~$265,0000. Yearly lease income: $60K.

I can see how the investment world would take notice of this sort of numbers but not why it would invest even a dime in a bizarre business model like that.

The hydrogen is included in the sale of the truck (at a not yet disclosed price, as I understand), not in the leasing program.

I think the quote is pretty clear: $4-5K monthly lease with up to one million miles of hydrogen included. A lease deal is often referred to as a sale.

The point is not that leasing the truck doesn’t make economic sense for a potential truck buyer. The point is that Nikola’s business model makes no economic sense. It’s an absolutely guaranteed money loser for Nikola, a massive money loser. There’s no practical or logical way out of that conclusion.

Giant red flags like this indicate either indicate a scam or an entrepreneur hopelessly out of his depth in trying to run a company. Either way, only a fool would invest in this startup.

“A fool and his money are soon parted.” — English proverb

They do not quote a lease price on their web page.

At Chris O said: “… A 100k/year long haul truck would consume ~15500 kilo’s of hydrogen per year (6MPKG)@ $16/kg= ~$265,0000. Yearly lease income: $60K.“

If @Chris O’s numbers are correct I agree that NM’s business model is a no-go.

Can anyone here point out specifically where @Chris O is off on his #s?

The are not going to refuel at expensive per kg pilot light car stations that don’t even have capacity for trucks, isn’t it obvious?

The same Nikola source if you quote it promises $6/kg RETAIL sales of fuel for cars. Their plan is to create their own large scale production infrastructure, not to use truck delivery of compressed cylinders.

If some crank announces “planning” BEV that will have $1/kWh battery and ability to charge in 1 second, we don’t put any credence to these cranks. Yet you do with H making outrageous claims?

Unlike wankers on the Internet, investors perform due diligence.

Hmmm… so that’s why investment scams never work; because investors always do proper due diligence.

Oh, wait… 🙄

Heh, I shall save that quote for the next time some troll claims Tesla’s business model is not sustainable 😛

H2 is fueled at Match 10 speed 0 to 100% all over the place for many years, and tank costs are well known. Only somebody living under the rock may still dispute it.

H2 fuel cost is somewhat less certain, as many variables are involved, and I would not take startup claims as absolute truth either. But again, it has been done in practice with industrial vehicles and buses in many places around the world, and economics is well known and published to some extent. E.g Sarta bus depot in Canton, Ohio gets supplied from Air Products plant in Sarnia, Ontario almost 300 miles away, and it is still under $5/kg delivered.

Yeah, economics is well known… To be totally unsustainable without humongous subsidies.

It’s 2012 and Elon Musk is claiming he can get battery tech down to $100 in 2019. Who would listen to a crank like that, there’s no way he could quarter the price of batter tech in 7 years!

It’s bold claims like this that push technology and civilization forward. Some thought Musk was a quack, yet some invested in him and it looks like he’s proving them right.

Going from $16 to $6 retail in a similar time frame doesn’t seem more outrageous than going from $400-$100 a kWh, especially when we know that wholesale cost of Hydrogen is lower than $6 now.

Things don’t get cheaper by magic, they do so because of efficiency. BEV actually provide tangible benefit for the end user and economy of scale brought down the price.

Who in their right mind would drive FCEV that offer worse experience than gasoline cars and pay 5 times the price at $16.50/kg? Exactly how are you going to scale this to become more efficient?

Only thing I hear from H crowd regard to price is that things happen by magic, not by economics and Physics.

Almost nobody in practice is paying this $16.50/kg, and you know it perfectly well, and still repeat the same nonsense again and again. It is free for car lessees.

Basic 5th grade math tells us if you split the same fixed cost over 10x more of the product, cost per kg will come down. Please continue to deny the math.

Yeah, it’s well known that hydrogen from steam methane reforming can be fairly competitive, at around five cents per kWh.

The problem with that of course is that hydrogen from steam methane reforming is not ecological at all. For this to be anything but a pointless exercise, we need costs of *sustainable* hydrogen production to come down to such levels. And there is no technology in sight that would allow for that.

(Whereas Musk was basing his predictions on iteration of existing technology, with a clear path to such cost reductions.)

These hydrogen costs are too high. Nikola’s hydrogen will be sourced from solar electrolysis, which is getting cheaper every day. Nikola has offered to sell H2 retail to passenger FCEVs for only $3.50 per kilogram, so clearly they have realized these savings.

Further, the trucks consume 4.6 kg (10 lb) H2 per 100 km (62 mi) according to Wikipedia. That’s only 7500 kg per year. At Nikola’s retail price, that’s only $26K. Their true costs are likely lower than that.

Eventually, even the most gullible are going to notice that the repeated claims, the Big Lies, from Big Oil shilling fool cell fanboys like you and zzzzzzzzz never come true. They’re going to notice that California H2 fueling stations have had 3 years to bring down prices at the pump, but those prices have only gotten higher.

Eventually, even the most gullible readers are going to realize that the non-subsidized price of H2 is ~$15-16 per kg, and that any claim for $5-6 / kg (or even lower) is a highly subsidized price.

Eventually, even the most gullible will realize that Nikola can’t possibly sell H2 at $3.50 / kg without a massive margin of loss.

“Eventually, even the most gullible readers are going to realize that the non-subsidized price of H2 is ~$15-16 per kg, and that any claim for $5-6 / kg (or even lower) is a highly subsidized price.”

Pupu I think you have your head in the sand. Electricity prices in California are 25-50% higher than most of the rest of North America. Does it not follow that H would also be more expensive in Ca? Look at the price of diesel across the nation and then look at Ca. SPARTA in Ohio is able to contract H delivered at about $4.50 /kg.

Sorry. Gotta go.

The city of Palo Alto recently got a renewable contract for 4 cents per kWh.

It doesn’t since most hydrogen is currently produced from methane rather than electrolysis and most cost are in the retail part anyway.

BTW did you know that it takes 68KWh (number hydrogenics dot com)to produce 1 kg@ 700 bar of hydrogen through electrolysis? That would power Tesla’s BEV truck for ~35 miles vs 6 miles (toyota numbers) – 12 miles (Nicola numbers) for an HFCV truck.

They will produce hydrogen themselves, and use equipment from NEL:

“A 100k/year long haul truck would consume ~15500 kilo’s of hydrogen per year (6MPKG)@ $16/kg= ~$265,0000. Yearly lease income: $60K.” $16/kg is a retail price in Ca. I suspect Ca retail prices are artificially high because all hfcev manufacturers are including H with the lease. Regardless the most recent Annual NREL report on FCEBs reported the wholesale price of H at just over $7/kg in Northern Ca. According to Shell, the US leader in H, they can produce H for below $3.80/kg. They have also said over 50% of their cost is electricity. According to SpARTA in Ohio their wholesale cost is $4.50/kg. Processes for producing H using CNTs or PEMs hold promise to reduce the cost of H production to $2.00 / kg. Nikola claims they will sell H at $3.50/kg. According to Wikipedia Nikola One uses 4.6 kg per 100km meaning 13.5 miles per kg. On the other side I believe Google tells me 125k miles per yr is average. Putting that together yields about $2,700 per month. They may market it as free fuel while including a per mile cost component in their lease so our 125 MPY driver might be paying closer to $5k per month.

You need to take care to distinguish between the cost of producing hydrogen and the cost of distributed hydrogen. Hydrogen stations cost 2-3 million to build, cost a lot of money in upkeep and have limited capacity, so high cost weighs on a relatively low number of kilo’s distributed which accounts for the sky high retail prices.

As for efficiency: One can put anything on Wikipedia but there is no reason to believe Nicola’s truck is more than twice as efficient as Toyota’s truck, between the two Toyota would be the more credible player.

If Nicola knows a way to sell distributed hydrogen for $3,50/kg, never mind that truck, that should be its business. It would safe hydrogen from the certain death by not being economically viable it’s facing right now. Well…almost, it still wouldn’t be competitive with plug-ins. The numbers are not on its side though.

So basically, both your numbers are being plucked out of thin air, which is a step down from claims by a manufacturer.

You’re assuming today’s pilot prices for fuel and another manufacturers numbers for efficiency, even though both are likely to change.

Whether Nikola have got it right as well is another matter, but at least they’ll have their ear to the ground and business sources to get some forecast figures.

At 12mpkg you’re looking at $132,000 for fuel at today’s prices, so even a halving of fuel prices (to still significantly above todays wholesale prices) means they’ll break even on lease cost and fuel. Halving that isn’t likely to be an unfounded prediction if they can scale things up, in which case they may well be in profit.

Not sure how an annual lease lease income of $60K would cover a $132,000 fuel bill. About thin air: my numbers are real world numbers as they exist today (assuming Toyota isn’t nefariously exaggerating fuel consumption of its HFCV truck for unfathomable reasons) . Not saying there isn’t room for improvement but the 50% improvement on efficiency+80% improvement on distributed hydrogen cost seems like a tall order indeed, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in the numbers Nicola is presenting to its investors. It’s the numbers Nicola needs for its HFCV truck to be competitive to diesel (if still not to Tesla’s BEV truck proposal ) but it sounds like a lot of wishful thinking if not outright fraud to me.

It wouldn’t, you missed this bit:

” so even a halving of fuel prices (to still significantly above todays wholesale prices) means they’ll break even on lease cost and fuel.”

Use their stated mpkg and then halve the current pilot fuel costs and you have a price that would break even with the lease costs.

Using a competitors fuel efficiency (rather than the stated fuel efficiency of the company itself) and using current day pilot prices is not going to give you a relevant number. It’s a bit like looking at the 2013 Leaf and proclaiming Tesla are talking out of their ass about a $35,000 car that can do 200 miles on a single charge.

Just so you know distribution costs for petrol/gas are minimal compared to the cost of the fuel itself, so I’d question if distribution costs for hydrogen are anywhere near the costs you’re making them out to be. Remember too that the cost of fuel has to cover the multi million $ cost of building a petrol/gas station now too.

Well, I’ll leave it up to the investors if they want to ignore what real world numbers are out there and buy into the efficiency and distributed hydrogen numbers Nicola proposes because it’s the minimum needed to be competitive with diesel if still not with Tesla’s BEV proposal. Hydrogen’s track record always puts such viable numbers 5 years out, maybe it’s different this time? Maybe the laws of physics have changed? You can question the distribution cost all you want but even Nicola’s founder and CEO Trevor Milton was upfront about the fact that each hydrogen station of the type he needs will cost him $10 million, and that’s “not factoring in the costs of the solar panels and electrolysis plant”. And he needs almost 400 of them…Best of luck with that.

Well considering they appear to have $11B worth of (admittedly non binding) pre orders, with 800 from Anheuser-Busch alone I assume they are quite happy with the maths. In the same way original investors in Tesla were quite hapy with the claims of Musk, even though prices of batteries and other technology were way higher than would have been possible to produce a Model 3.

I’m sure the customers are pretty happy with the math: everybody wants a truck for the price they would otherwise spend on the fuel alone, what’s not to like about a free truck, orders pouring in no doubt as long as there is zero risk involved for the customers. The big question is: how is Nicola going to deliver on these killer lease deals without going bankrupt really really quick because it’s really hard to see how the math will ever work for Nicola.

That’s exactly what many truck manufacturers and observers are saying about Musk’s semi, yet presumably you’re giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps Nikola will fail, but equally they may well succeed. It’s pretty obvious however that taking current californian retail prices and multiplying them by a number from somewhere else is not due diligence enough to actually make an informed claim.

Nobody is saying that about Tesla’s semi since there is no pie in the sky lease deal involved. You pay for the truck, you pay for the fuel. Of course Tesla does promise $0.07/KWh energy cost, we’ll see if they can deliver. Seems likely since they’ll be using electricity on an industrial scale with the tariffs that come with that.

I do agree that current HFCV prices may come down somewhat, but I will also maintain that the massive distribution cost will limit the scope of cost reduction to the extend that the $3.50/kilo Nicala needs to have a viable business case for HFCV trucking is extremely unlikely ever to happen.

“So basically, both your numbers are being plucked out of thin air,”

BS. I’ve told you where my numbers have come from. If you care to dispute anything please cite what you doubt or use google to to the research.

You seem to be using California retail prices which is where you have gone wrong. Long haulers with diesel try to buy their fuel outside of California. Why would H be different? Moreover Nikola would be the retailer and would be buying at wholesale if it is cheaper than producing it themselves.

Certainly Nikola has some challenges ahead but the challenges are not as insurmountable as many perceive them to be. I see the same sort of ignorance about BEVs from FC fanboys.

I’m not disputing your numbers, I was talking about Chris O.

“So basically, both your numbers are being plucked out of thin air, which is a step down from claims by a manufacturer.”

No, Chris O is talking about actual real-world prices for H2 at real-world filling stations. The die-hard fool cell fanboys here, zzzzzzzzzzz and Eleventy Pretend Electrics, are citing fantasy figures from Big Oil shills and the sham company Nikola. It’s no coincidence that zzzzzzzzzzz and Eleventy Pretend Electrics are also hard-core Tesla Hater cultists. Nothing they say on these subjects is true.

The cost for uncompressed H2 at the generating source doesn’t help anybody who wants to fill up the tank of his hydrogen-powered vehicle.

Everything’s a conspiracy, we know.

Realistically, prices change as technology improves and economies of scale increase. It’s how Tesla can aim for sub $100 kWh batteries and why EV vehicles are going to be able to become mainstream. Honestly the EV fanboyism gets annoying quickly. There’s space for more than one type of energy for worldwide transportation needs, being pro EV doesn’t mean you have to bitch about every other technology.

And you’re not doing yourself any favours by using silly names either, it’s just childish and reduces the weight of any argument you make.

Note that HFCV advocates invariably become abusive which is pretty annoying too. One of hydrogen’s biggest problems is the types that show up to defend it, it’s never nice people.

The world doesn’t need hydrogen, it’s either wasteful or polluting depending on how you produce it and definitely always a lot more expensive than the plug-in alternative. That makes it puzzling why always people show up promote the hydrogen hoax which is not in their own interest in any way.

Economies of scale do not solve everything — there are hard physical limits of known technology. These limits are quite tough for existing battery technology, but good enough to make something like the Tesla Semi plausible — further breakthroughs in battery technology will only improve upon that. For fuel cell technology and sustainable hydrogen production, to the best of my knowledge, the physical limits of existing technology are *not* good enough to be competitive — promises of a viable hydrogen economy are based on hopes of major future technology breakthroughs…

They are making their own at the stations with renewable energy contracts. The costs are known, they are supplying the hydrogen at cost.

I understand the diff between cost of producing and cost of distributing as well as the diff between wholesale and retail which is why i’ve Specified each data point. With cost of electricity currently being the primary cost component we would expect regional fluctuations corresponding with electricity prices. There is precious little data on the NREL cost for NorCal is from late 2017. The SPARTA price is from July 3018. CA has an annual report on FC status. The costs in CA for H stations started at about 2.6million a few years ago and is down to about 1.6 million now. It is likely to be around 1 million per in a few years. Here again it is possible that that cost is inflated because someone else is paying for it. I doubt Nikola will be able to sell H at $3.50 in 2021 -2023 which is when they would need to in order to not start hemorrhaging cash but that gives them some time to reduce costs. As for efficiency I’d suggest you refer to the Big Truck Project which was able to double the efficiency of diesel class 8 trucks without much of the gains specific to diesel.… Read more »

Cost of electricity is not the major limiting factor for cost of electrolysis hydrogen, according to a fairly in-depth study from less than a year ago…

Hydrogen “debate”, ROFLOL!

Chris O:
“You need to take care to distinguish between the cost of producing hydrogen and the cost of distributed hydrogen. Hydrogen stations cost 2-3 million to build, cost a lot of money in upkeep and have limited capacity, so high cost weighs on a relatively low number of kilo’s distributed which accounts for the sky high retail prices.”

Yes, you are certainly correct on this. But you need to take care to distinguish between custom design light car station of 180 kg/day nominal capacity (maybe 70 kg average use in practice) that takes years to get permits, and truck stations that supply 1 ton/day minimum and are ordered in bulk.

If you will order 200 grams of liquid hydrogen to the middle of the desert 100 miles from city, it will certainly cost you $1000/kg minimum. It doesn’t mean anything. If you want to read about larger scale deployment, here are H2 station CapEx and OpEx calculations:
Each is under 1 €/kg at certain scale.

You’re ignoring the effects of scale. It’s true today that’s hydrogen stations are very expensive. There are of order ~100 worldwide. As with the vehicles, for costs to come down, scale must increase. Whether it’ll ever get competitive is another issue, but it’s a bit premature I think at this stage to say it won’t.

I find it a bit amusing that there are EV advocates on this site, who have watched EVs scale their way down the cost curve, seem to be very keen to deny hydrogen the chance to do the same.

What can I tell you, after decades of research and billions spent hydrogen is still nowhere near being economically viable. Will cost come down more? Probably but so will the cost of batteries, how will hydrogen ever catch up? Why would anybody even want hydrogen to succeed since it’s either extremely wasteful or very polluting and guaranteed always a lot more expensive for the consumer than plugging in.

This oft-repeated argument, predicting hydrogen viability based on the historical development of battery technology, kinda sounds like cargo-cult economics… Just because one technology was able to scale favourably, doesn’t mean any other can do the same. Every technology has different scaling properties — and last time I heard, those of hydrogen technology weren’t too encouraging…
They will make the hydrogen infrastructure for Nicola.

“…the most recent Annual NREL report on FCEBs reported the wholesale price of H at just over $7/kg in Northern Ca. According to Shell, the US leader in H, they can produce H for below $3.80/kg.”

All that may be true, and just underscores how most of the cost, waste, and pollution emissions from the many steps in the supply chain come after the H2 is generated. It doesn’t at all help the trucking fleet operator that it may cost less than $3.80/kg to generate the hydrogen; the fleet operator’s costs are the at-the-pump costs, not the first-step-in-the-supply-chain generating costs.

Nicola have ordered a lot of equipment from NEL, and can, if they will – produce hydrogen gas from solar, wind or grid electricity. Solar and wind hydrogen stations have been tested by NEL.
Now, give it a few years, and we’ll see how things turn out.

You have to have a link on the lease price per month,
their web site does not state a lease price per month.

“Earlier this year, an analyst challenged Nikola’s initial economic model, which assumed the annual fixed cost of leasing one of its over-the-road trucks to be $94,000, compared with an operating cost of $132,557 for a diesel-fueled truck.

A key point was Nikola’s assumption that the truck would travel 208,000 miles a year, Michael Baudendistel, an analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., wrote in April after attending a seminar sponsored by ACT Research Co., where Nikola chief financial officer Jonathan Spira spoke.

This is an excerpt from s 2017 article. Note the cost referenced is about 8k per month.

So what we have is maybe the company said it a while back and the media repeated it.

Will both these and the Tesla design be able to power refrigeration trailers? Current ones are powered by separate diesel units on the trailer itself. Would be pretty ironic (and laughable) to continue with that setup on an EV or FCEV tractor.

Trailers need refrigeration when detached from tractor as well. There are some projects to replace diesel, but it is separate story.

On fuel cell vans like Toyota is providing to 7-Eleven in Japan, they do refrigeration too.

True dat. I don’t see how any eco solutions will be cost effective for the foreseeable future.

The whole point of the semi tractor-trailer setup is that, at least in theory, any tractor should be able to haul any trailer. I don’t know if any reefer trailers have self-contained power sources for the refrigeration, but if they do, then a BEV semi tractor should be able to haul those just as easily as a diesel semi tractor.

A fleet operator isn’t going to care about how “ironic” or amusing it is to have a BEV semi tractor pulling a diesel-powered reefer trailer. He’s only going to care how much it costs.

Yes, these reefer trailers have self-contained refrigeration sources, mostly diesel powered, so they can cool 24/7 with or without a tractor.

Fleet owners like the one ordering 800 tractors care GREATLY about optics. Large fleet operators like wal-mart, regional grocery companies, produce companies, have their own reefer trailers.

Apparently fully electric reefer units are a thing

Why can’t the whole roof of a reefer be PV panels? There should be room up there for 14 panels at (low est) 250w/h each or 3.5kw/h X 10 hrs (average day between summer and winter) or 350kw/h. That should be enough to not drain much from the drive battery when underway and keep the reefer effective for short periods when disconnected.

Both eNow and Thermo King have prototype solar powered reefer units under development. Do not think they have them to ice cream temp levels yet, but hauling produce temps for sure.


Would 208k miles per year imply a team vehicle?

208k miles would definitely be team, super hard core solo is like max 130 + maybe a bit more but you just don’t see that anymore

Money well spent

Did I say ‘spent?’ I meant “flushed”

Damn! I thought we were finally get to see this thing actually doing something. If I were plunking down money, I’d actually want to see it pull that trailer.

If this was 2008, and fugitive methane wasn’t the huge issue it is, I could almost wish to see these guys succeed.