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.
Trevor Milton, Nikola’s founder and largest shareholder, has found himself at the centre of attention recently, but probably not in a way that he intended. He is subject to a claim brought against him by the United States Securities Commission (SEC) for fraud. The charge; allegedly 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. Elon Musk, for example, is well known for being able to move the price of Tesla stock, amongst other things, at the click of a button. It appears that Milton may also have been a bit too enthusiastic for the likes of the SEC, while marketing Nikola’s brand.
There’s nothing wrong with self-promotion provided it is done within the rules. According to the SEC, Milton 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 at that Milton raised $1 billion from investors with the use of a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), was a Serbian-American inventor and engineer, best known for his innovation in electric power. While the world of electric vehicles is certainly exciting and holds much potential for the future, some of the ventures marketed by individuals such as Milton may not be quite what the company’s namesake would want to be associated with – at least not yet.