‘BP breaks off talks with Nikola on hydrogen fuel stations’
Oil giant British Petroleum (BP) broke off talks with American fuel cell truck start-up Nikola on a network of hydrogen stations that both would develop together across North America in the next eight to ten years. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Hindenburg report accusing Nikola’s founder Trevor Milton of deceiving investors slammed the door.
Neither BP nor Nikola wanted to comment. According to the newspaper, the talks were nearly in the final stage, and Nikola hoped to announce the deal for the hydrogen network with a major partner a few days after the deal with General Motors. That would give the start-up even more credibility.
Producing and distributing hydrogen
Becoming a producer and distributor of hydrogen is an important part of Nikola’s business plan, according to a presentation the company made to investors in April. Nikola wants to offer an all-inclusive leasing contract to its customers for the fuel cell semi-trucks that should hit the road by 2023.
It should be a seven-year or ‘700 000-mile’ lease, including maintenance and the fuel costs of the hydrogen. Nikola wants to produce ‘green’ hydrogen itself and claims to be able to do that at a price of $2,47 (€2,08) per kilogram, based on wholesale prices for buying renewable energy from several providers.
Network of hydrogen stations
For the production, it says to have an agreement with Norwegian Nel ASA, a global provider of solutions for the production, storage, and distribution of hydrogen from renewable energy sources, to deliver the electrolysis equipment.
Another big part of the ambitious plan is to develop a network of more than 700 hydrogen fuel stations across North America in the next ten years. Trevor Milton emulates in this Elon Musk of Tesla, who has built a network of Superchargers for its cars in all major markets.
This network of hydrogen stations is where British Petroleum is being mentioned for the first time by the Wall Street Journal. But now it looks BP is afraid to get its fingers burnt as Nikola and his founder and Chairman are caught in a media storm.
Trevor Milton, founder and Executive Chairman of Nikola stepped down on Sunday after he and his company were accused of fraud and misleading investors. The storm flared up ten days ago when short-seller and analyst Hindenburg Research claimed in a report to have ‘extensive evidence’ that numerous assertions of Nikola’s technology were false or purchased from another company.
Milton was succeeded as chairman by board member Stephen Girsky, a former vice-chairman of General Motors. On Twitter, Milton cried out his innocence, saying: “The focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not on me. I intend to defend myself against false accusations leveled against me by outside detractors.”
Since the Hindenburg report, Nikola’s stock has plunged by nearly 50%, and the company that used to be valued $30 billion (€25,2 billion) at its peak, is now worth less than $10 billion (€8,4 billion). And still, the first production-ready hydrogen or full-electric semi-truck from Nikola is yet to be built.