Hydrogen Truck Startup Sues Tesla for $2 Billion Over Alleged Patent Infringements

Nikola Motor Company claims Tesla infringes on three of its patents. The company is currently taking pre-orders on the Nikola One which they expect to be fulfilled by 2019.

Hydrogen-powered semi-truck truck company, Nikola Motor Company is reportedly suing Tesla Motors over patent infringements. Nikola has claimed that Tesla infringes on three of its patents related to the design of Tesla's electric Semi.

The truck's fuselage design, its wraparound windshield and mid-entry door were all named as design infringements. Nikola alleges these breaches have caused confusion among potential customers and that they have lost over $2 billion in potential business. 

They also state that they are likely to be attributed to any problems that arise with Tesla's Semi due to the truck's similar appearance. While some may say that it's a case of Nikola being jealous of Tesla’s far bigger reputation, the claims may have some merit. 

Nikola released their truck prototype in December 2016, while we only saw the first Tesla Semi in last December. The two trucks do share a lot of physical resemblances as well. 

Trucks share physical resemblance

Putting the two truck prototypes side by side definitely raises some suspicions. In addition to the patent infringements, Nikola states that Tesla has no design patents on their truck compared to their half-dozen. 

Hydrogen Truck Startup Sues Tesla for $2 Billion Over Alleged Patent Infringements
Nikola Semi top. Tesla Semi bottom. Source: Lambert/Scribd

When asked for comment, a Tesla spokesperson responded saying, "It's patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit.” Nikola Motors on the other hand strongly believe they are in the right. Their spokesperson commented on the potential case saying "We are simply defending our intellectual property. The lawsuit speaks for itself."

It seems Nikola pulled the $2 billion in lost business from the value that Tesla's stock price jumped after unveiling their Semi in combination with the pre-orders Tesla accepted from large commercial customers. You can read the full complaint on Scribd.

Nikola Motor Company ready to deliver in 2019

Despite the claims it is being done out of business by Tesla, Nikola seems to be doing okay. Earlier in the year, they announced they have plans to build a $1 billion factory on the outskirts of Phoenix. Nikola have two hydrogen-electric trucks in their portfolio, the Nikola One and the Nikola Two. 

The company claims the 1,000 horsepower Nikola One will outperform current diesel trucks in weight, acceleration, stopping and safety features. The Nikola One has a boosted range of 500 to 1,000 miles range, doubling that of the Tesla electric Semi which has an estimated range of 300 to 500 miles. 

The company is currently taking pre-orders on the Nikola One which they expect to be fulfilled by 2019. Tesla launched its electric semi with much fanfare last September. 

The all-electric small truck claims it will reduce emissions and offer a safe and silent method of transportation. The Tesla Semi has a reported acceleration of 0-60 mph in 20 seconds and a range of 500 miles. 

Tesla Semi pre-ordered by logistics giant

Vehicles

UPS Places a $25 Million Dollar Order for Tesla Semi Truck

Tesla Semi is able to be reserved now for an expected delivery sometime in 2019. Despite the truck being a long way off, it's been reported that Tesla already has more than 200 of the trucks on order. 

Logistics operator DHL is reported to have ordered ten trucks to do short trips and same day deliveries in major US cities.

Tesla originally offered truck reservations for just $5,000 but that price has been upped to $20,000 for a ‘base reservation’. There is also the option to reserve the “Founders Series” of the truck for a cool $200,000.