Nikola Plant Progresses Amid Setbacks

Construction continues at Nikola Motor Company’s electric and fuel-cell truck factory in Coolidge.

The company said in a Dec. 29 social media post the first vertical steel post for its factory at Houser and Vail roads had been installed, five months after the groundbreaking ceremony for a plant ultimately planned to cover 1 million square feet and represent a $600 million investment.

“This phase of structural steel construction will grow into walls and roof as we continue to build the future home for North America truck manufacturing,” the company said in Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts.


The day before, Nikola announced it would hold a “meet-and-greet” with potential employees in Coolidge in mid-January and plans to begin building trucks there this summer. For more information about job openings visit www.nikolamotor.com/careers

Company spokesperson Nicole Rose said manufacturing equipment is being purchased including heavy-duty dynamometer, roll, and brake testing systems and heavy frame turning equipment.
She said Nikola expects to begin test production in the third or fourth quarter of 2021, with work on the assembly shop of the first phase of the factory continuing through the end of the year.

The Coolidge site is scheduled to begin producing electric battery-driven, zero-emission Nikola Tre BEV vehicles for its order from Anheuser-Busch in 2022. The factory is to be completed in 2023, after which it will produce fuel-cell electric Class 8 trucks, Rose said.

Nikola still has a contract to deliver up to 800 trucks after a turbulent four months ending 2020.

On Sept. 8 it announced GM would take a $2 billion stake in Nikola and manufacture its planned electric and fuel-cell operated Badger pickup truck. Two days later a short-seller firm slammed the company in a report as an “intricate fraud,” with allegations Nikola said were “false and misleading.”

Nikola founder Trevor Milton stepped down from his positions as executive chairman and board member on Sept. 8 but remains the company’s largest shareholder. The current executive chairman is Stephen Girsky, a managing partner at VectoIQ, the firm Nikola merged with in June 2020 so it could be listed on the stock market.

On Nov. 30 Nikola announced signing a non-binding agreement with General Motors related to the integration of GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology into its Class 7 and 8 commercial trucks, which replaced the more lucrative deal announced in September.

On Dec. 23 the cancellation of Nikola’s contract to make up to 2,500 garbage and recycling trucks for Republic Services was announced.