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A new note from RBC Capital Markets explains why electric and hydrogen truck startup Nikola may be poised to succeed despite now-departed founder Trevor Milton's allegedly false claims about its progress and tech.

Details: Instead, "What made NKLA unique was [the opportunity] to sell 'routes' via fuel cell truck leases, and helping industry solve 'chicken and egg' problem associated with hydrogen infrastructure build-out."

  • "If they're able to succeed, this could potentially create a first mover advantage and a feedback loop allowing them to sell more trucks."

Yes, but: RBC analysts say Nikola must "rebuild credibility" and the stock will remain in the "penalty box" while that happens.

  • Also, they note risks facing Nikola, some of which are the same ones facing any alternative transportation startup, such as price volatility for raw materials, slow market uptake of non-fossil fuel tech, and more.

Where it stands: Nikola's big industrial partners are sticking with the embattled company, providing another sign it's positioned to survive the tumult for now.

  • German industrial conglomerate Bosch, which is providing components for a planned hydrogen semitruck, is still on board, per Reuters.
  • And Nikola's top finance exec said at an investor event yesterday that Bosch and CNH Industrial — the European company slated to manufacture the Nikola Tre — remain partners.
  • As we reported, GM still plans to build Nikola's Badger pickup and supply tech for its heavy trucks, and fleet owners that placed semi orders haven't bailed.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 22, 2019 - Technology

Tesla ushers in the electric pickup moment

Photo: Tesla

Tesla unveiled its futuristic "Cybertruck" at an L.A. event on Thursday that was heavy on light shows, yet analysts remain in the dark about the future of electric pickups — and Tesla's role in it.

Why it matters: The event was the splashiest sign yesterday that automakers are moving closer to bringing electric models to the huge pickup market.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
25 mins ago - Technology

Doomsday Clock stays at 100 seconds to midnight

Robert Rosner, left, and Suzet McKinney reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/Thomas Gaulkin

In its annual update on Wednesday morning, scientists announced the Doomsday Clock would be kept at 100 seconds to midnight.

Why it matters: The decision to keep the clock hands steady — tied for the closest it has ever been to midnight in the clock's 74-year history — reflects a picture of progress on climate change and politics undercut by growing threats from infectious disease and disruptive technologies.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.