While 2020 wasn’t exactly kind to anyone, things were particularly bad for the folks at Nikola Motors. The once-promising hydrogen-electric vehicle company faced a major fall from grace following allegations of fraud being levied against then-CEO Trevor Milton. This led to an SEC investigation, the resignation of Milton, and an utter free-fall of stock prices. To make matters worse, the drama took place immediately after the start-up inked a multi-billion dollar deal with General Motors, who have since rescinded much of their interest in the partnership. With the Nikola Badger all but dead, and the hydrogen-powered semi trucks still in need of development capital, Nikola Motors is in a tough spot. However, the company’s ORV plans don’t seem to have been derailed. In fact, MC&T has just discovered a new trademark filed by the troubled automaker via the USPTO. The trademark in question was just filed by Nikola Motors on January 13, specifically for the “Reckless” nameplate.
A bit on the nose perhaps, but this trademark isn’t exactly for a road-going automobile. The goods and services description on the trademark reads as follows:
Motor vehicles, namely, side-by-sides, UTVs (Utility Task Vehicles), ROVs (Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles), MOHUVs (Multipurpose Off-Highway Utility Vehicles) and structural parts therefor; Automobiles; Structural parts for automobiles; Electric automobiles; Structural parts for electric automobiles; Land vehicles, namely, side-by-sides, UTVs (Utility Task Vehicles), ROVs (Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles), MOHUVs (Multipurpose Off-Highway Utility Vehicles); Motor vehicle body parts; Trim panels for motor vehicle bodies
The trademarking reflects Nikola’s intent to enter the ORV space with the Reckless name, as was previewed in 2019 with the NZT and Reckless UTV prototypes at “Nikola World” that took place in Arizona. The prototypes featured 400V AC electric motors with independent drive axles, producing 590 horsepower and 775 lb-ft of torque. Range is an estimated 150 miles. Charging time is as little as two hours. 0-60 is just four seconds. The price? $80,000 to start. Reckless, indeed.
At the time, the Nikola NZT was the more civilian-oriented UTV, while the Reckless was a militarized version capable of fitting weapons systems, and could be operated remotely like a drone. Perhaps GM Defense took a liking to it. And here’s where things get interesting:
The National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) awarded Nikola federal money to integrate hydrogen fuel cell technology into the Nikola Reckless UTV for testing and validation, via the US Department of Defense (DoD) Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) cooperative agreement, totaling $4.35 million USD. Nikola will receive $1 million, of the $4.35 million project, and work directly with the project partners to allocate the remaining funds. The partner in question? None other than Pratt & Miller Engineering.
That name may ring a bell, especially for Corvette Racing fans, as Pratt & Miller does most of the engineering of the Corvette race cars. But Pratt & Miller is actually a defense company, and was recently acquired by larger Oshkosh Defense for $115 million USD.
The research project was expected to last 32 weeks, starting from October 2019. It’s unclear if COVID disruptions adjusted the timeline. Nevertheless, it’s very clear that there are synergies between fuel-cell-focused GM Defense, and fuel-cell-focused Nikola.
Before you question how this could present any benefit off-road, the folks at Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus already plans to run a hydrogen-powered Boot at the next Baja 1000. If it’s good enough for a back-to-back champion, it should prove suitable for consumer use.
Do you trust Nikola enough to buy one of these at this point, especially if its called the Nikola Reckless? Let us known in the comments down below.