Nikola Motors accuses Tesla of stealing truck design in $2B lawsuit

May 8, 2018

Tyson Fisher


The race for the truck of the future between Tesla and Nikola, both Delaware-based corporations, has reached the courtroom. Nikola recently filed a lawsuit against Tesla alleging Elon Musk’s company stole Nikola’s design of its electric Class 8 truck after seeing the Nikola One truck posted on Nikola’s website.

According to the lawsuit, Nikola filed a series of design patents of its electric truck on Dec. 30, 2015. On May 9, 2016, Nikola posted its design of the Nikola One truck on its website along with a news release. The lawsuit alleges that Tesla CEO Elon Musk had seen that image that day, pointing out that there was “widespread publicity.” At the time, Tesla had not announced any plans on building a Class 8 truck.

Following the website announcement, Nikola had orders for more than 7,000 trucks by Aug. 31, 2016, totaling $2.3 billion. After a Dec. 1, 2016, unveiling of a prototype, orders jumped to a value of more than $4 billion.

Shortly after reporting a loss of nearly $300 million, Tesla updated the status of its truck on its blog in July 2016, saying it was “in the early stages of development at Tesla and should be ready for unveiling next year.”

About a year ago, Tesla released teaser images of its semi. According to court documents, Tesla still did not have any design patents at the time. A few months later, Nikola sent Tesla a letter to inform the company that Nikola design features were identified and to not reveal the truck until the situation was resolved.

Last November, Tesla held a highly anticipated news conference that was livestreamed on the internet to introduce the Tesla Semi. Tesla’s market value jumped by about $2 billion following the announcement.

In the lawsuit, Nikola alleged specifically that Tesla copied its truck’s wrap windshield, aerodynamic fuselage, mid-entry door, and front fender.

Nikola is claiming damages of more than $2 billion due to Tesla’s alleged infringement.

In response to the allegations, a Tesla spokesperson said the lawsuit had “no merit.”

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.