Founder of Electric Truck Company Nikola Now World’s 188th Richest Person After IPO

Wall Street is very fond of Nikola. Can it transform trucking with EVs and hydrogen?

Nikola Motor

Good morning and welcome back to Speed Lines, The Drive's morning roundup of what matters most in the world of cars and transportation. Summer is officially here, I'd say. Today we're talking about Nikola Corporation's big valuation, Honda gets hit with a cyberattack, and the long road to electric vehicle dominance. 

Electric Truck Maker Nikola Brings A Ton Of Investor Optimism

Nikola doesn't say this explicitly, of course, but it wants to do for trucking what Tesla did for the car industry. It's planning a big foray into electric and hydrogen-powered semi-trucks, as well as the pickup truck concept you see above called the Badger. The Arizona-based company had its initial public offering last week, and since then its share price has more than doubled, CNBC reports. The company now has a $26.3 billion market valuation.

And as Bloomberg notes, the growth has put Nikola founder Trevor Milton's fortune at $9 billion, making him the 188th richest person in the world. (That's according to Bloomberg, of course, but I suppose they're good at paying attention to such things.) Reservations for the Badger open at the end of this month, and the company is working on its trucking fleet, as well as charging and fueling infrastructure to support it. The company expects to start generating revenue in 2021.

Still, it's now expected to become the next darling of speculative traders and short-sellers, much as Tesla is (they're even both named after the same guy.) Both the company's product output and stock price will be something to watch this year and next. Let's just hope Milton's Twitter game is way more chill than Elon Musk's, though. I don't know if I have the mental bandwidth to deal with two of them.

Honda Vs. The Cyber

Automakers have enough problems with the pandemic. Add one other worry to Honda's list: a ransomware attack, which reportedly brought parts of its entire global operation to a standstill on Monday. A number of facets of its business were disrupted, including factories and online financial services. 

Tech Crunch has some details on what may have happened here:

Details of the attack are slim but an earlier report suggests that the Snake ransomware is the likely culprit. Snake, like other file-encrypting malware, scrambles files and documents and holds them hostage for a ransom, expected to be paid in cryptocurrency. But Honda said there was no evidence to suggest that data had been exfiltrated, a common tactic used by newer forms of ransomware.

Brett Callow, a threat analyst at security firm Emsisoft, said a sample of the file-encrypting malware was uploaded to VirusTotal, a malware analysis service, referencing an internal Honda subdomain, mds.honda.com.

“The ransomware will only encrypt files on systems capable of resolving this domain but, as the domain does not exist on the clear net, most systems would not be able to resolve it. mds.honda.com may well exist on the internal nameserver used by Honda’s intranet, so this is a fairly solid indicator that Honda was indeed hit by Snake,” said Callow.

It's not clear why Honda was targeted, but cyber attacks are on the rise this year

GM's Mary Barra: Fully Electric Cars In 20+ Years, AVs Sooner

General Motors' current guiding ethos is Zero, Zero, Zero: Crashes, emissions, congestion. To pull off the second one it's planning on eventually transitioning its entire passenger vehicle output to EVs. What's the timeline on that? According to CEO Mary Barra, speaking at a Bloomberg event, we're talking longer than you may think: probably on the other side of 20 years.

Here's Automotive News:

CEO Mary Barra said American drivers will go electric, but it will take a long time for most of the 250 million vehicles on U.S. roads to be battery powered.

“We believe the transition will happen over time,” Barra said on “Leadership Live With David Rubenstein” on Bloomberg Television. When asked if all cars will be electric in 20 years, she said that may be too soon. “It will happen in a little bit longer period, but it will happen.”

[...] In addition to funding its EV program, GM also is spending about $1 billion a year to fund Cruise, the self-driving car unit the Detroit-based automaker majority owns. A return on that investment will bear fruit before long, Barra said. Although Cruise canceled plans to launch a ride-hailing service last year and has not set a new date, it is developing a self-driving vehicle that will be dedicated to an autonomous taxi service.


As for the latter, Barra thinks we will see that within five years. That's a little more optimistic than I would expect. 

On Our Radar

Nissan recalls nearly 1.9M cars for pesky hood latch problem (AP)

VW's Diess was stripped of key role amid infighting, reports say (Automotive News)

Men accused of helping ex-Nissan boss flee Japan challenge U.S. extradition case (Reuters)

Read These To Seem Smart And Interesting

In Klamath Falls, Oregon, victory declared over Antifa, which never showed up (NBC News)

Data suggests it's "very rare" for coronavirus to spread through asymptomatics (Axios)

Rats Have Not Changed. We Have. (The Atlantic)

Your Turn

When does the U.S. vehicle market go fully electric? Can that ever happen?