Nikola loses key executive heading fuel-cell development

Nikola Corp., the troubled hydrogen-powered and battery-electric truck startup, lost a key member of its executive staff with the departure of the previous head of its fuel-cell development program.

The company mentioned Jesse Schneider, executive vp of know-how, hydrogen and gas cells, left the company April 1. He had led its engineering groups engaged on fuel-cell programs, a deliberate hydrogen-fueling station community and storage know-how.

“Jesse Schneider lately departed Nikola on good phrases, we perceive to pursue a business alternative within the hydrogen business,” Mark Russell, Nikola’s chief executive officer, said Wednesday in an emailed statement. “Jesse’s contribution over the last three years included helping Nikola build world-class fuel cell and hydrogen teams.”

Shares of Nikola fell 7% to shut at $12.29 in New York buying and selling — the bottom because it went public in a reverse merger final year with a blank-check company. The stock is down greater than 80% from its June excessive. It was hit laborious by a brief vendor’s allegations in September that the startup had mislead traders. Nikola later acknowledged that a few of its claims have been inaccurate.

Hydrogen-powered automobiles and the fueling community to help them is on the core of the Phoenix, Arizona-based company’s business mannequin, after it deserted a deliberate pickup project with General Motors Co. and development of power-sports automobiles.

Nikola mentioned it has no plans to call a substitute executive vp to fill Schneider’s function. A spokesperson mentioned the position is being terminated because the company strikes from development to deployment.

Fueling Network Plans

Nikola’s first hydrogen-powered truck is due to enter manufacturing beginning in 2023 at a manufacturing unit beneath development in Arizona. The company can also be engaged on a community of hydrogen-fueling stations with the intention of constructing a number of hundred areas over the subsequent decade. Installation of the primary of these is predicted to start out this quarter.

Nikola is considered one of a number of corporations taking a look at fuel-cell know-how to energy industrial automobiles, alongside Toyota Motor Corp and Hyundai Motor Co. It can also be engaged on a battery-electric semi truck with CNH Industrial NV.’s Iveco unit, which is because of be inbuilt Ulm, Germany, on the finish of this year. Nikola additionally has agreements with GM and Robert Bosch GmbH to make use of their fuel-cell know-how in its vehicles.

At the time of his hiring in April 2018, Nikola described Schneider as an “automotive business veteran” with 20 years of experience working on fuel cells and electrification in multiple regions. He previously worked at BMW AG and the former DaimlerChrysler, the U.S. unit of which is now part of Stellantis NV, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“It was my honor to lead the hydrogen and fuel-cell development teams of the Nikola Two and soon-to-be-released Tre Fuel Cell prototypes with Iveco and Bosch,” Schneider mentioned in an emailed assertion. “I left Nikola with the aim of beginning a brand new company in California.”

His LinkedIn profile now lists him as chief executive officer at ZEV Station, a startup that’s engaged on renewable-energy powered electrical charging and hydrogen fueling stations.

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