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Nikola Announces Preliminary Results of Battery Investigations, Voluntarily Recalls 209 Class 8 Battery-Electric Trucks

  • Third party and internal investigations indicate probable cause of previously reported battery pack thermal event
  • Customer trucks may remain in service, immediate actions recommended for Nikola customers and dealers
  • Efforts underway to remedy issues, repairs expected to commence in the coming weeks
  • Hydrogen fuel cell electric truck launch unaffected, in production now with deliveries slated in Q3

PHOENIX – August 11, 2023 – The safety of customers, dealers and team members are Nikola’s top priority. Nikola Corporation (Nasdaq: NKLA), a global leader in zero-emissions transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions, via the HYLA brand, today provides the preliminary results of its battery pack investigations and as a precautionary measure, announces a voluntary recall of approximately 209 Class 8 Tre battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Nikola is currently in the process of filing this voluntary recall with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is placing a temporary hold on new BEV sales until a resolution is in place.

These actions do not affect the hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) currently in production as the truck’s battery pack has a different design.

Following an August 10 presentation of preliminary findings from Exponent, a reputable third-party investigator, a coolant leak inside a single battery pack was found to be the probable cause of the truck fire at the company’s headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. on June 23, 2023. The findings were further corroborated by a minor thermal incident that impacted one pack on an engineering validation truck parked at the company’s Coolidge, Ariz. plant on Aug. 10. No one was injured in either incident.

Internal investigations from Nikola’s safety and engineering teams indicate a single supplier component within the battery pack as the likely source of the coolant leak and efforts are underway to provide a field remedy in the coming weeks.

Tre BEV trucks may remain in operation, but for optimal performance and safety, the Nikola team encourages all customers and dealers to immediately take the following actions:

  • Place the Main Battery Disconnect (MBD) switch into the “ON” position at all times to enable real-time vehicle monitoring and safety systems operation
  • Consider parking trucks outside to allow for over-the-air updates and better connectivity with Fleet Command, Nikola’s truck monitoring system

The company’s software systems are being used in real-time to monitor trucks in the field closely and continually assess risks. Thus far, only two (2) battery packs have experienced a thermal event, out of more than 3,100 packs on trucks produced to date (less than 0.07%).

Additional information, updates and required customer actions will be announced in the coming weeks.

“At Nikola we take safety very seriously,” said Steve Girsky, Nikola’s CEO. “We stated from the beginning that as soon as our investigations were concluded we would provide an update, and we will continue our transparency as we learn more.”

The company’s initial statement on June 23 alluded to foul play as a possible cause of the incident, based on video footage showing a vehicle parked next to the impacted trucks and quickly pulling away after a bright flash and the commencement of the fire. Extensive internal and third party-led hypothesis testing, employee and contractor interviews, and hours of video footage review has since suggested foul play or other external factors were unlikely to have caused the incident.

Prior to putting the Tre BEV into production, Nikola spent significant time validating the truck for the safety of the driver and their surroundings. The truck meets and exceeds FMVSS and UN GTR 20 government regulations; was subjected to front, side, rear, and rollover crash testing; and satisfied battery safety elements including vehicle resistance isolation monitoring, water fording resistance, battery coolant leakage monitoring, battery thermal runaway detection, and high-voltage interlock loop fault detection. Battery system safety was tested and validated, including single cell passive propagation resistance (PPR), vibration and mechanical integrity, thermal shock and cycling, fire resistance, external short circuit, and battery management system overcharge, over-discharge, overcurrent, and extreme temperature testing.

Nikola Corporation is globally transforming the transportation industry. As a designer and manufacturer of zero-emission battery-electric and hydrogen-electric vehicles, electric vehicle drivetrains, vehicle components, energy storage systems, and hydrogen station infrastructure, via the HYLA brand, Nikola is driven to revolutionize the economic and environmental impact of commerce as we know it today. Founded in 2015, Nikola Corporation is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. For more information, visit www.nikolamotor.com.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws with respect to Nikola Corporation (the “Company”), including statements relating to: the Company’s beliefs regarding the probable cause and likely source of the thermal event; the Company’s beliefs regarding its ability to provide a remedy, the nature of such remedy and expected timing of repairs; and the Company’s beliefs regarding the extent of vehicles affected. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by words such as “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections, and other statements about future events based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to: the final results of the Company’s investigations into the thermal event; the discovery that the cause of the thermal event is more extensive than initially anticipated; delays or the Company’s inability to remedy the problem; the impact on customer orders and the Company’s brand and reputation; the effect of any governmental or regulatory actions; and the factors, risks and uncertainties regarding the Company’s business described in the “Risk Factors” section of the Company’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2023 filed with the SEC, in addition to the Company’s subsequent filings with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause the Company’s actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and, except as required by law, the Company assumes no obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

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