Nikola Motor Company was founded in 2014 and they have taken the spotlight as they filed a lawsuit in Arizona saying that Tesla’s all-electric Semi infringes on the startup’s hydrogen truck. The lawsuit is seeking $2 billion in damages in return for Tesla willfully copying the patents.
Nikola showed off its first two products, an electric four-wheel offroad vehicle, and a hydrogen-electric semi truck in May 2016. Since then, it has added another semi truck to the lineup and has announced plans for a $1 billion factory in Arizona.
The complaint that was filed by Nikola has a number of claims stating Tesla cribbed from the startup’s patents. They point to the similarities in the trucks’ front fenders, wraparound windshields, mid-entry doors, aerodynamic fuselage (with similar drag coefficients), and more as evidence that Tesla copied its design.
Another claim is that Aaron Hoyos, a recruiter for Tesla, tried to convince Nikola’s chief engineer to join Tesla only a few months after their hydrogen semi truck was unveiled. This proves that Tesla was aware of Nikola’s designs and wanted a piece of the action.
Nikola says that Tesla’s truck is causing “confusion in the market,” and claims that “Tesla’s infringement has harmed Nikola’s ability to attract investors and partners because investors can now partner with Tesla to have an alternative fuel semi-truck.” The damage from this alleged infringement, per Nikola’s calculations, is “in excess of $2 billion.”
This is not the first time the two companies have locked horns as they are both named after the same famous inventor. We will have to wait and see how these allegations pan out, but it is another thorn in Tesla’s side that it did not need right now.