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.

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Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Oil giant Total invests in hydrogen truck startup Hyzon Motors

Image courtesy of Hyzon Motors

The huge multinational oil-and-gas company Total SE is investing in the hydrogen fuel cell truck and bus startup Hyzon Motors, the companies announced this morning.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of increasing interest in hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles amid moves by startups and legacy automakers alike. It also shows how European-headquartered oil giants are boosting their alternative energy portfolios, even though hydrocarbons remain their dominant business lines.

Post-debate poll finds Biden strong on every major issue

Joe Biden speaks Friday about "The Biden Plan to Beat COVID-19," at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

This is one of the bigger signs of trouble for President Trump that we've seen in a poll: Of the final debate's seven topics, Joe Biden won or tied on all seven when viewers in a massive Axios-SurveyMonkey sample were asked who they trusted more to handle the issue.

Why it matters: In a time of unprecedented colliding crises for the nation, the polling considered Biden to be vastly more competent.