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Nikola, CNH say building electric truck prototypes, target end 2021 launch

(Reuters) – Nikola Corp <NKLA.O and vehicle equipment maker CNH Industrial said the firms are working together to build prototypes of the EV maker’s Tre semi-truck, sending Nikola’s shares up 12%, days after a scathing report from short-seller Hindenburg alleged the company of ‘fraud’.

CNH said it aims to start testing the semi-trucks later this year, and hopes to launch the vehicles commercially by the fourth quarter of 2021.

Hindenburg had shorted the stock last week and said it had gathered enough evidence to show Nikola founder Trevor Milton made false statements about possessing proprietary technology to form partnerships with large automakers.

Hindenburg had also alleged that a seemingly functional truck, Nikola One, was “simply filmed rolling down a big hill” in 2017. Nikola said on Monday it never stated the truck was driving “under its own propulsion” and investors at that time were aware of its technical capabilities.

Nikola, which had accused Hindenburg of manipulating the stock to benefit short-sellers, said it approached the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on the matter.

Last week, automaker General Motors Co  took an 11% stake in Nikola and said the two companies will join forces to build electric pickup trucks and fuel cell commercial trucks to take on Tesla Inc .

GM’s deal with Nikola gives it scale and validates its technology, GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra told analysts on a conference call on Monday, deferring any questions on the latter to the EV maker.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera and Neha Malara in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)


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