Nikola Founder Misrepresented Truck's Capabilities, According to Report

Nikola founder and chairman Trevor Milton said he "never deceived anyone."
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Trevor Milton, founder of the electric truck maker Nikola, exaggerated the readiness of the Nikola One, its debut truck, according to a published report Wednesday.

Despite claims in a 2016 public unveiling that a Nikola One prototype was driveable, the model lacked key components and was inoperable, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with Nikola One's capabilities. 

Shares of Nikola  (NKLA) - Get Report were roughly flat in after hours trading on Wednesday after closing the trading day at $64.06.

Nikola expects the Nikola One, an electric semi truck, to begin production next year. 

Milton told Bloomberg on Wednesday that parts had been removed from the vehicle for safety reasons but that he "never deceived anyone.”

Nikola went public earlier this month by way of a $3.3 billion merger with VectoIQ, a special-purpose acquisition firm created by former GM  (GM) - Get Report vice chairman Steve Girsky. 

Since that deal, Nikola shares have skyrocketed nearly 80% amid optimism that the electric truck maker could be the next automotive disruptor in the vein of Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report.

In an interview with TheStreet's Katherine Ross this month, Milton said that any competition with Tesla will bring better results

"The world knows that we're really the experts in heavy-duty transportation, and electrification; and the world knows that Tesla's really focused on the electrification and home residential storage of battery and energy. So I think it's easy enough for people to distinguish," Milton said. 

Milton said what sets Nikola apart is that its technology is "vertically integrated," meaning that it will build both the vehicle and the energy architecture. 

Milton stepped aside as CEO during the merger with VectoIQ and took the role of executive chairman, following a move by the company's institutional investors to split the two roles. The company appointed Mark Russell as its new CEO.

Elon Musk drove a working prototype of Tesla's semi at the time of its announcement in late 2017.