There is little doubt that electric vehicles are the hot topic of the day. Everyone from Tesla to Volkswagen to Toyota to BMW wants to get in on the future of transport. Another company trying to stake its claim is Nikola Motors, founded in 2015 with the ambitious goal of manufacturing commercial trucks that run on alternative fuel with low or zero carbon admissions.
Nikola’s founder and largest shareholder has recently found himself at the centre of attention, but probably not in a way that he intended. He is subject to a claim by the United States Securities Commission (SEC) for fraud. The charges revolve around allegations of deceiving retail investors about the technical advancement of his company’s products through social media.
Anyone who has been keeping tabs on popular social media platforms like Twitter will not be surprised to hear about such shenanigans. Tesla Motor’s CEO, for example, is well known for being able to move the price of a stock, amongst other things, at the click of a button. In this instance, it appears that Nikola’s founder may also have been a bit too enthusiastic while marketing his company’s brand.
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of self-promotion provided it is done within the rules. According to the SEC, Nikola’s founder was obligated under securities law to communicate “completely, accurately, and truthfully.” Whether this occurred is yet to be determined. What is not in doubt, however, is that he raised over $1 billion from investors using a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), was a Serbian-American inventor and engineer, most famously known for his innovations in electric power. While the world of electric vehicles is certainly exciting and holds much potential for the future, many of the ventures marketed by the likes of Nikola’s founder may not be quite what the company’s namesake would wish to be associated with – at least not yet.