Statements made on Nikola Motors' official twitter account on April 4 have drawn quite some attention with media sources saying the automotive company was poking at rival Tesla. The statements, made through two tweets, spoke of Nikola's $8 billion in preorders, 100% refunds on reservations and the fact that, unlike competitor Tesla, the company would not use deposit money to operate its business.
Great news! All reservations will be refunded 100% and you won't lose your place in line. We don't use your money to operate our business. We want everyone to know we have never used a dollar of deposit money in the history of our company. All deposits will be refunded < 60 days.— Nikola Motor Company (@nikolamotor) 4 April 2018
Nikola tweets some bold statements
The startup also tweeted that their Nikola One and Two trucks could now be reserved "without any deposit." The comments were made despite the fact that the company is only expected to start production of the trucks in 2021, a fact that could complicate delivery timelines and force Nikola to review its promises.
You can now reserve a Nikola One or Two without any deposit at https://t.co/xKPXKBEgss . With over 8 + billion in pre order reservations, who needs deposits anyways!— Nikola Motor Company (@nikolamotor) 4 April 2018
In contrast, production of the Tesla Semi is expected to begin in 2019, already putting the company ahead of the ambitious startup rival. Also, last January, Nikola announced plans to build a $1 billion hydrogen-electric semi truck factory in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, a move from Salt Lake City that is only set to be completed by October of 2018.
Finally, there is the important fact that Nikola's trucks require an elaborate network of hydrogen refueling stations. The startup has announced it will deploy 364 hydrogen stations across the U.S. and Canada within ten years, a goal that is certain to be much easier said than done.
The startup has a history of daring statements
However, Nikola’s bold statements did not come as much of a surprise as the company has a history of making inflated statements. CEO Trevor Milton told Fortune during an interview in November of 2017: “Everything people know about trucking is going to be changed because Nikola has changed it.”
Nikola also seems to partner with companies that believe in its daring vision. A press release published by Nikola on April 3 from Nel ASA, stating the hydrogen company had received additional purchase orders from the startup, featured a quote from Chief Executive Officer of Nel Jon André Løkke saying the firm looked “forward to supplying the demo stations, which will lay the groundwork for the world’s largest, most efficient network of low-cost hydrogen production and fueling sites."
Time will tell if Nikola is proven right. In the meantime, it might serve the company well to remember that a little humility goes a long way.