Nikola Claims ‘Foul Play’ in Electric Semi Truck Battery Fire at HQ

The company claims to have seen a suspicious vehicles near the burned trucks before the fire.

byJames Gilboy|
Firefighters douse a Nikola electric truck in water after a battery fire
Phoenix Fire Department


A fire broke out at the headquarters of electric semi truck maker Nikola Motors, destroying multiple trucks. The company states it suspects "foul play" in the fire as investigations into the blaze proceed.

The fire occurred early Friday morning behind company headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona according to a company tweet. Photos of the aftermath show two trucks burned to a crisp, and two of their neighbors having sustained serious damage. According to Nikola, a vehicle was spotted near the damaged trucks shortly before the fire, leading to an accusation of "foul play."

The fire prompted a large emergency response, with Fox 10 Phoenix reporting approximately 50 firefighters called in from surrounding areas along with hazmat crews. Fire department officials reportedly told Fox 10 that the fire began in one of the trucks' batteries from a chemical reaction. Emergency crews will remain onsite for a prolonged period according to ABC 15 Arizona, owing to the risk of the batteries reigniting on their own. No injuries have been reported.

If the alleged bad actor isn't identified, the fire could seriously mar the image of a truck company whose past has been anything but dull. Nikola was originally built on the promise of a hydrogen-powered semi truck, though a video of a Nikola on the move was later revealed to be an unpowered chassis rolled down a hill. Despite criminal charges against founder Trevor Milton, the company managed to put its electric semi trucks into production before Tesla, though it had to cancel its "Badger" electric pickup in the process.

Nikola remains a relatively small business though, reporting 64 sales and deliveries in Q1. If the fire turns out not to be sabotage, it's hard to see that number climbing with legacy truck manufacturers in the game—not to mention Tesla too.

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