Tesla hit with $2bn truck lawsuit

There's something ironic about learning that Nikola is suing Tesla, two companies both meant to honor maverick inventor Nikola Tesla, but the Salt Lake City-based Nikola Motor Co. has filed a suit against Silicon Valley rival claiming Tesla has infringed on its design patents.

Nikola announced its hydrogen-electric truck back in 2016 just over a year before Tesla unveiled its electric-powered semi truck.

Specifically, the suit points out the similarities in the shape of the body, the wraparound windscreen and the easy-access mid-entry door. Tesla rejected Nikola's claims.

A startup intent on building hydrogen fuel-cell trucks is taking Tesla to court, alleging that the two companies' truck designs are too similar.

Nikola said it sent a letter to Tesla after becoming aware of the design similarities, demanding it not unveil its semi until the infringement had been resolved.

Putting a price tag on that damage comes to $2 billion, according to the law suit. It also makes you wonder if the company is now anxious that the Tesla Semi will significantly undercut demand for its product, and is thus altering its business plan accordingly.

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"It's patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit", a Tesla spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Notably, Electrek does a great job of pointing out that wrap windshields on trucks have been around forever and is hardly a unique design stumbled upon by Nikola.

By Aug. 31, 2016, Nikola had 300 orders for more than 7,000 of its trucks with a total value of more than $2.3 billion.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla Semi, its electric heavy duty truck, in November. Upon information and belief, Tesla's market value jumped by roughly $2 billion after the Semi unveiling. Nikola has previously said that it would build 360 hydrogen fueling stations in the US. The facility where it will manufacture the trucks does not yet exist, and apparently, neither does the money for it.

Nikola's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment; and a spokesperson for the company declined to comment.

Musk has been accused of using flashy new projects, such as $500 flamethrowers, hyperloop tunnels, and a semi truck, to distract from the cash flow and manufacturing problems the company is having with the core business at Tesla.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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