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Nikola Tries to Ignite Market for Its Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Trucks

Startup commercial-truck maker is setting more modest production expectations as founder in court on securities-fraud charges

Nikola’s first battery-powered electric trucks rolled off the assembly line this year, and the company expects to make 300 by the end of 2022.Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg News

As Nikola founder stands trial on securities-fraud charges, a revamped management team is pushing to make the company the first to market hydrogen-powered commercial trucks in the U.S.—and to overcome production and credibility challenges that have weighed on its shares.

The seven-year-old company’s first battery-powered electric trucks rolled off the assembly line this year, and around 300 are expected to be built by the end of 2022. Nikola said it plans to begin producing heavy-duty trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells next year. The Arizona-based startup said it has orders for about 1,500 trucks in total for its battery and hydrogen fuel-cell models, designed to pull semitrailers with freight.

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