Nikola Motors To Refund All Semi Deposits In Swipe At Tesla

APR 7 2018 BY MARK KANE 46

Nikola Motor Company announced that it will refund all deposits placed for the hydrogen fuel cell semi trucks, saying that it never used a dollar of deposit money.

There will be no place changes “in line” for trucks ordered – Nikola simply resigned from deposits, noting over $8 billion in pre-orders.

Tesla Semi Competitor

Nikola Two

“We don’t use your money to operate our business. We want everyone to know we have never used a dollar of deposit money in the history of our company.”

“With over 8 + billion in pre order reservations, who needs deposits anyways!”

According to, the announcement is kind of “an apparent jab at Tesla, which financial analysts widely suspect is using millions of dollars in deposit money placed by Semi electric truck customers to simply keep the company’s lights on and doors open.”

We doubt that deposits for the all-electric Semi will be a big help for Tesla, as even with hundreds of reservations ($20,000 for base Semi and $200,000 for founders) it only amounts to a two-digit million dollar figure, compared to almost $11.8 billion of revenues in 2017 and over $2.2 billion of net losses.

Read Also – Nikola Motor Announces 16 Future Hydrogen Stations Covering Over 2,000 Miles

Maybe including deposits for Model 3 – which could be roughly $500 million – would be enough to make a difference, but not sufficient for the long haul. In other words, regardless of whether Tesla is using deposits or not, it would not matter much without revenues from sales and capital raise.

On the other hand, taking fully-refundable deposits for reservations makes them more credible ahead of product introduction.

In other news, Nikola Motor Company placed an additional $5.5 million purchase order for hydrogen refueling stations from Nel.

The first order in November was for two demo hydrogen refueling stations ($3.5 million). The next step is large-scale sites – 14 are planned initially, however Nikola and Nel are evaluating if the initial station number should be doubled to 28.

The first stations are to be opened in the second half of 2018 and in 2019. The Nikola hydrogen electric semi-trucks will begin testing with fleets in 2019 and start full production in 2021.

Jon André Løkke, Chief Executive Officer of Nel said:

“We are very proud to announce that we have received an additional order from Nikola re-lated to the electrolyzer and fueling solution for their prototype trucks. The order marks a strengthening of our partnership and is a recognition of the level of competence our team and hydrogen solutions can offer. We look forward to supplying the demo stations, which will lay the groundwork for the world’s largest, most efficient network of low-cost hydrogen production and fueling sites.”


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46 Comments on "Nikola Motors To Refund All Semi Deposits In Swipe At Tesla"

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28 new Hydrogen Dispenseries…. Big money here somewhere. I wonder who is funding them?

Welcome to your new life Beyond Thunderdome!
Get ready to wrestle with the swine providers, in order to fill up you Camel Wagon.

I wonder if this is the point, where the ashes of Nicola Tesla actually reshuffle, in the yard of The St. Sava Temple.

Probably your tax dollars.

If you’re going to make such accusations, shouldn’t be sure?

Tesla has never dipped below the cash of the preorders they took, so trying to insinuate that Tesla uses that money to survive is silly. (Not to mention they are fully refundable)

Putting down preorders with deposits is an important way to be sure the buyer is serious. Especially when you do custom configurations. Doing preorders without downpayments is inviting potential for fraud.

My guess is that once Tesla semi was announced, preorders for their truck has dried up. So they are trying to pick that up by not taking downpayments.

Returning the downpayments Nikola already took is nothing shocking either, because for a new company, digging into downpayments is a dangerous business. If you fail to deliver, you will end up getting sued and may even face criminal charges. Unlike kickstarter where most people putting down money are random people, those buying trucks are companies with lawyers on staff.

“Putting down preorders with deposits is an important way to be sure the buyer is serious.”

Exactly. So-called “preorders” with no “earnest money”, no deposit, means nothing more than a click on a website. It means interest but shows no commitment.

I suspect you are right: Probably Nikola has had to refund most of its deposits, and rather than admit interest in their fool cell truck has dried up, they’re trying to spin this to make it look like a “win” for them.

People who use the term “fool” are just that.

That was a great response with lots of thought put in to it.

So basically they won’t guarantee their customers that they will deliver the trucks…and that is good why? Take the money and put it in a escrow account if you don’t need it and want to make a statement but don’t effectively cancel the orders. What bs!

The cynic in me says this seems like a move to drive up more “reservations”, which become quite meaningless if the people reserving don’t have any financial stake in it. Similar to early FF reservations.

If they don’t want to use the deposits, they can put them in an escrow.

I don’t buy it. Have we seen anything rolling around to customers that resembles a working product? I strongly suspect that Nikola Motors has a lot more tangible interest in their off-road troop transport than in their Fuel Cell platform. What I would believe is that Nikola Motors has had to refund all those deposits because of cancellations.

I have to wonder just who would be foolish enough to actually believe that Nikola has $8 billion — that’s “billion”, with a “B” — in pre-orders.

Nikola is looking more and more like a sham company to me; a sham intended to fleece investors, like Faraday Future.

Do you have data to prove otherwise? Calling someone a liar shouldn’t be done lightly.

Nikola is claiming that trucking companies can save money bus using hydrogen to power their trucks instead of diesel.

That’s either a delusion — a serious delusion — or it’s a lie. Of course, knowing one of their claims can’t possibly be true doesn’t prove another is, but it’s a rather short jump to that conclusion!

It all comes down to costs ,Will hydrogen cost less than diesel ?
Those hydrogen tanks are not cheap and there is way more technology and complexity than Tesla’s proven technology.

Hydrogen up front may seem more expensive. However it will also be more efficient. I would presume they have done the numbers and have shown those numbers to prospective customers.

It’s also worth noting that their semi would have a sizable battery and would be a plug-in. So, although a lot would depend on hydrogen fuel price, it wouldn’t depend entirely on it.

It isn’t that much of a swipe at Tesla. Who cares what is done with the deposit when the product is so superior?

Nicola is “superior” in so many ways, especially as a bait and switch, fossil fuel revenue extraction “fool sell” scheme. It is definitely a genius master plan.

If Nicola Tesla was still developing any of his ideas today, this Nicola implemented Hydrogen “fool sell” truck plan, would most definitely NOT be on any of his “To Do” lists.

Fossil fuels creating hydrogen = bad.

Fossil fuels creating electricity = ok because it will account for a smaller percent of electricity in the future.

Shouldn’t we be consistent in our praises ad criticisms?

The problem with hydrogen is that it is 3X cheaper to make it out of fossil fuels than renewable energy. And this has nothing to do with the cost of renewable energy and everything to do with the cost of the process itself. Making hydrogen out of natural gas is a more efficient and cheaper process. This is why even the hydrogen lobby while loving to tout renewable energy insists that 90% of funding should go to making hydrogen out of fossil fuels. In comparison, here are the latest numbers for 2017(levelized costs WITHOUT subsidies for US) for new electricity generation: – Coal costs 9.5 cents per kwh, “clean coal” costs 11.9-13 cents per kwh – Natural gas costs 4.81-4.83 cents per kwh – Solar costs 5.91 cents per kwh (down from 7.37 cents last year) – On shore wind costs 4.8 cents per kwh (down from 5.58 cents last year) – Geothermal costs 4.31 cents per kwh – Nuclear costs 9 cents per kwh Renewable energy is already cheaper than fossil fuels now. It is only a matter of retiring our old grid and going renewable. Solar is projected to hit 3 cents per kwh by 2020! From 2016->2017,… Read more »

Thanks for providing costs for the different fuels, but do these prices include transport costs? Unless you make hydrogen right where it is sold there are extra costs involved, not to mention that it has to be compressed to 5000 to 10000 psi, this takes energy.I think it would be more efficient to use a compressed air car
( ).

The costs I provided for each fuel is not for hydrogen but electricity costs. It is levelied costs that includes transmission.

“Fossil fuels creating hydrogen = bad.

Fossil fuels creating electricity = ok because it will account for a smaller percent of electricity in the future.

Shouldn’t we be consistent in our praises ad criticisms?”

Just what is your agenda here? To promote the “hydrogen economy” hoax and the interests of Big Oil?

Battery-electric vehicles can be run on 100% clean electricity, and thankfully the U.S. grid is getting cleaner every year.

Contrariwise, 95% of commercially produced hydrogen comes from natural gas, which is why Big Oil & Gas is promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax.

What would be inconsistent would be promoting the “hydrogen economy” hoax on a website dedicated to EVs.

> Just what is your agenda here? To promote the “hydrogen economy” hoax and the interests of Big Oil?

What’s my agenda?! You have no shame! Should I ask the same thing of you?

I want consistent arguments. I am a fan of EVs and PHEVs. I also think there is room for hydrogen in the future of clean transportation. I think PHEVs have a very big role to play in the transitional period. Yes, I realize hydrogen cars are less efficient than electric ones. There is wayy too much anti-hydrogen sentiment in these forums and increasingly anti PHEVs. I think those are the people here with real agendas. (Big oil interests have mostly been trying to discredit global warming but I don’t see much of that sentiment in InsideEVs.) I believe that is counter productive if the goal is to work towards building a low carbon, sustainable society. Which should really be the ultimate goal.

Fossil fuel produced hydrogen remains bad for consumers, the environment, and EVs. Unless you Prsnep are promoting hydrogen from wind/solar/hydro/geo you are only promoting the fossil fuel industry. If you do support hydrogen from renewables, then you don’t understand the huge losses in power involved in the hydrogen process.
So the questions are: are you a fossil fuel corrupted tool or are you ignorant of how inefficient hydrogen is?

We’d have much healthier discussions if we weren’t derogatory towards people with differing opinions or assume they were paid shills by default.

If energy efficiency was so important, anti-hydrogen electric car advocates should also insist on people buying the Ioniq over Model X. It is 60% more efficient. That’s nothing to scoff at!

Is 60% significant? Yes! It’s like comparing a Porche 911 with a C-MAX Hybrid:

The ioniq is a midsized car, the Model X is an SUV that can seat 7.

You haven’t responded to the question, so “shill” it is.


I wonder who is bankrolling all of this…Not surprised about all the pre-orders considering Nikola Motor’s promise:

“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”

Who doesn’t want a cool truck (and yes, it does look a lot cooler than Tesla’s wind tunnel creatures)for the price of just the fuel of a regular truck?

But…at 100K miles a year, the fuel cost alone for these babies is going to run $16K/month. (Back of napkin calculation: 1000kg of hydrogen for 8000 miles, current price of distributed hydrogen ~16/kg.)

That makes it hard to believe this isn’t some sort of scam.

What is sad is that it is still more expensive than a Tesla semi. An average semi travels 45k miles per year, and long distance haulers at max travel 100k miles per year. So if a semi were to travel 100k per year, it would take 10 years to drive 1 million miles. 4000*12*10 =$480,000 Now then, a Tesla semi even founders edition costs $200,000. 2kwh per mile at 7 cents per kwh * 1 million miles = $140,000. $200,000 + $140,000 = $340,000 A savings of $140,000. You can get a free 300 miles Tesla semi for about that. So even if they use some fairy dust to make that expensive hydrogen out of thin air, it is still a lot more expensive than a Tesla semi. To add salt to the injury are these statistics(2002): Total Trucks = 5,521,000 Off the road = 183,000 (3.3%) 50 miles or less = 2,942,000 (53.3%) 51 to 100 miles = 685,000 (12.4%) 101 to 200 miles = 244,000 (4.4%) 201 to 500 miles = 232,000 (4.2%) 501 miles or more = 293,000 (5.3%) Not reported = 716,000 (13%) Not applicable = 226,000 (4%) Aka, their entire market is short of 300k… Read more »

Thank you for the stats! Can you also provide the ref link, SVP?

Have these guys even shown a working prototype? Going from a prototype to a production vehicle is usually the biggest leap that gets completely underestimated by startups, but as far as I can tell, these guys haven’t even shown a proof of concept. I’m far from a Tesla’s fanboy, but at least they’ve shown a working prototype, several have been seen out on the road, and more importantly, Tesla knows exactly what it takes to produce vehicles at volume and that you can put a warranty on.

That’s before I even ask any questions about cost of hydrogen.

So far as I can tell, it’s only two Tesla trucks that have been made, not several. Two are probably enough for now, anyway.

If Tesla can actually do what they say, ain’t noone in the trucking business going to be looking at other options. $0.07/kWh for 500mi looks like about $70. vs $1,000 for hydrogen (62.5kg to go 500mi @ $16/kg?), just doesn’t make sense! Plus how will the hydrogen truck perform from a maintenance point of view? Electric is REALLY simple!
If it is a slur on Tesla, has anyone cancelled their reservation and not got their money back? If not, what’s the problem?

I would think that most of Nikola’s customers have already revoked their deposits and went to order Tesla Semis so they decided to do a publicity stunt and refund the remaining couple of customers too. Just ask yourself who would you trust with your truck order: A) Nikola with a fuel cell semi A completely new company with no track record whatsoever in the automotive sector working on technology (FCV) that is completely unproven in mass-production-at-cost and costs 4-10 times as much at real-life, unsubsidized fuel prices than the electric competitor. Also, the fuel is currently fossil based and the fueling network is practically nonexistent and each fueling station installation costs 5-10 times as much as the electric competitor. The electric competitor has decreasing electricity production cost since solar and wind production prices are dropping continuously. B) Tesla with an electric semi A company being in the automotive market for 10+ years and has already shipped multiple successful and competitive electric vehicles in fairly big volumes. Has huge industrial battery partners (Panasonic) and has already built a huge factory (the GF) which allows them to further reduce costs credibly. Already acquired several big manufacturing automation firms so their cost-reduction-by-automation plans… Read more »

Tesla doesn’t even have a product for the OTR market
So this is like apples and oranges comparison(s)

OTR market? You mean that tiny market that makes up only 5.3% of trucks? Or about 300k trucks?

While it may be an apples to oranges comparison, it doesn’t change the fact that Nikola is locked out of the majority of the market due to Tesla being much cheaper than them.

I’m sure Tesla will do ok in their niche.
Daycabs , good for anybody that goes home everyday
For the rest of us that are on the road 3 weeks
A month 10k miles, over 1,500 gal/fuel
There just isn’t anything else viable for now.

I’m not against Tesla. But Tesla is going to have much harder time in trucking than cars, nobody going to put up with their bs in parts availability for repairs for one.
The stats you use are really old.

Nice try but you have it backwards. The one who is serving a small niche is Nikola.

While I don’t have newer per truck statistics, I do have per weight statistics from 2015.

In Millions of tons:

Total =11,396
Below 100 = 7,220 (63.4%)
100 – 249 = 1,792 (15.7%)
250 – 499 = 1,321 (11.6%)
500 – 749 = 468 (4.1%)
750 – 999 = 216 (1.9%)
1,000 – 1,499 = 215 (1.9%)
1,500 – 2,000 = 88 (0.8%)
Over 2,000 =76 (0.6%)

So let us rehash:
Tesla Semi 300 miles = Over 79%
Tesla Semi 500 miles = 90.67%
Nikola’s Niche Semi = 9.33%

Still pretty small niche if you ask me for Nikola.

Oh and just to add on top, if those in the cabs take the mandatory break and megacharge for 30 minutes along the road. The 500 – 749 miles (4.1%) also becomes quite accessible without losing any time.

Why now? It’s good to get money with reservations because you know they are more serious. When Tesla went to parts suppliers and said we have 400k people who put money down, they could demand their best design teams. With model S they got some of their worse teams. The money hopefully helped Nikolai in the same way.

These guys don’t have revenue tho or very little, so they may have to handle questions about their finances. Tesla burned 1.7 billion dollars 2 quarters ago, more than their reservations by 3x. It wouldn’t be sustainable to and if you’ve listened to the shareholders calls they talk about how they don’t use it.

like the fool idea yet for me any overdune creation of heat to run a vehicle is bad for the enviroment. evs very little heat output to travel. just imagine how much heat is thrown into the atmosphere every day, by traditional modes of transport. WOW

All interesting – I believe that in a lot of life it’s useful to look for discrepancies (even, maybe especially, small ones) because once you find one, then what else may lurk…..? In this case, the big surprise to me was finding Nikola plan to use electrolysis to produce the hydrogen on site. But apparently trucking hydrogen is far more problematic than gasoline- the weight of truck plus pressure vessel means little payload! So they are forced into the electrolysis approach, even though their PR people are spinning it a “green” issue. The discrepancies here come from a big claim by the hydrogen lobby stating that the effect on the grid and need to upgrade such for charging stations is a strong negative against battery electric cars and trucks. But hold on – the lower efficiencies of electrolysis and fuel cells versus using the electricity to charge batteries mean the impact on the grid will mean about 3-4x the demand!! As well as each station being more complicated and expensive! “Hypocrisy” may be a better word than discrepancy…… As far as the deposits go, I suspect the moment the Tesla Semi was announced, orders for the Nikola went quickly in… Read more »