Yesterday General Motors announced a $2 billion investment into startup automaker Nikola in exchange for an 11 percent stake in the company. But that’s not all, as details included that the GM will in fact engineer, validate and build the Nikola Badger electric/fuel cell pickup truck. This seems at odds with the Detroit automaker’s current plans to offer up electric trucks of its own, starting with the 2022 GMC Hummer EV. But GM CEO Mary Barra doesn’t seem too worried.
“There’s going to be plenty of opportunity and different desires for different product so there’s room for the Badger and the GMC Hummer and other products we put into the marketplace from an EV perspective,” Barra said during a conference call, per The Detroit Free Press. “This does validate our technology; this is the second company to choose our technology over others. It gives us scale and efficiencies to drive cost down.”
It could be down to pricing, or the demographic. The base version of the Nikola Badger is planned to start at $60,000 USD. A base GMC Hummer EV could start around there also. But where Nikola will offer a hydrogen fuel cell range extender in its top-end version, the Hummer will be purely electric. And when it comes to preliminary performance and capabilities, the tale of the tape is otherwise very close. But without having the spec sheets in front of us, the Badger and the Hummer could come to market being completely different sizes.
Nikola also falls into a category consisting of a fresh, yet unproven automaker that seem to attract young, tech-savvy and affluent buyers. This is shared with the likes of Rivian, Tesla, and Bollinger. Meanwhile, trucks like Hummer EV, electric Chevrolet Silverado, and electric Ford F-150 are examples of the established guard bucking traditional fuels to pursue these same customers. Time will tell if it was worth the effort, or if they should have just gone after the Ram TRX.
GM will get a head start on Nikola, as it plans to begin offering the highly anticipated Hummer EV by fall of 2021. The Nikola Badger, which can be reserved for $100, is targeted to launch in 2022. By comparison, the Tesla Cybertruck is still expected to launch at the end of 2021, although 2022 seems more likely. The Rivian R1T, meanwhile, will start production by June 2021. Bollinger Motors plans to begin deliveries by 2021, as well. The electric Ford F-150 is expected to launch by mid-2022.
GM is investing $2.2 billion to retool its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly to make all-electric vehicles including the GMC Hummer pickup and SUV in 2021. An electric Chevrolet Silverado is expected to follow. GM hasn’t commented on where it will make the Badger, but the obvious signs point to D-Ham at this time.
Barra said GM is “open to consider additional deals” involving its EV technology. Even the semi-truck market is said to be an opportunity. After starting with the Nikola Badger, GM will carry its partnership with Nikola onto other future EVs such as Nikola Tre, Nikola One and Nikola Two electric semi-trucks as well as the NZT, a personal watercraft vehicle.