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GM cuts back terms of partnership with Nikola, shares drop over 24%

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Shares of Nikola Motor Company (NASDAQ: NKLA) dropped by over 24% in early trading hours on Monday morning after General Motors signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, describing their partnership’s newly minimized terms. GM has completely backed out of the idea of helping Nikola produce its all-electric Badger pickup and will focus solely on the manufacturing of Nikolas Class 7 and Class 8 zero-emission semi-trucks that will be powered by GM’s Hydrotec fuel-cell technology.

Nikola released a statement on Monday morning that described a non-binding MOU, which was signed by both parties, outlining a partnership between the two companies that would have GM supplying its fuel-cell systems into Nikola’s semi-trucks. The new MOU will supersede and replace the previous agreement that was set to be finalized in early December. The initial agreement was announced on September 8th, but many things have happened since then that have complicated the nature of the deal.

After GM and Nikola had announced their initial intentions to make a deal for manufacturing, a group known as Hindenburg Research released a document entitled, “Nikola—How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership With the Largest Auto OEM in America.” The report called the company “an intricate fraud” and outlined several accusations involving Nikola being fraudulent and misleading to its shareholders. Arguably the most shocking claim was that Nikola’s demonstration of the One, its introductory semi-truck, was not self-propelled. Nikola revealed that it had spent a tremendous sum of money on the One, and it had no desire to spend more capital on the development of a One prototype. Instead, the company let the semi-truck drift down a slightly embanked hill, which gave the appearance that it was self-propelled.

After admitting this, Nikola shares fell by around 10%, and the company’s widely-criticized CEO, Trevor Milton, stepped down from his position and disappeared from the public spotlight.

Nikola Motors loses founder Trevor Milton amid SEC and DOJ probe

Teslarati recently reported that GM and Nikola talks had frozen after the Hindenburg accusations. GM told us that the transaction was still incomplete as of November 18th. It appears that the two companies were working out a new deal that would still require a partnership but would be less intimate.

As a result of GM’s new, minimal agreement with Nikola, the electric automaker filed an offer of up to 23.9 million shares linked to warrants and an additional 53.4 million shares of common stock. The extension of shares caused the stock to fall, and at the time of writing, it was down 24.26%.

GM cuts back terms of partnership with Nikola, shares drop over 24%

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/gm-nikola-partnership-mou/

Automotive

Tesla Giga Texas’ water treatment facilities take form with Canada-based firm’s contract

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It appears that Tesla’s contractor for Gigafactory Texas’ water treatment facilities has been subtly revealed. In a recent statement, Canadian water treatment solutions provider H2O Innovation Inc announced that it had won an engineering deal on a large capital equipment project for the United States’ largest EV manufacturer, which is currently building a factory in Texas. 

H2O Innovation did not specifically name a client in its announcement, though references to the contract being for the largest electric vehicle maker in the United States suggest that the company in question is Tesla. This, coupled with the hint that the contract requires designing equipment for an EV manufacturing plant in Texas, further suggests that the Elon Musk-led firm is H2O Innovation’s client. 

For its contract with Tesla, the Canadian water treatment solutions firm would be modeling and building two reverse osmosis trains for Gigafactory Texas, with each being rated at 2,200 cubic meters (5.8 million gallons) per day. Upon successful completion of the engineering work, H2O Innovation would be issued a purchase order. 

The announcement of H2O Innovation’s contract with the American electric vehicle manufacturer was appreciated by the water treatment provider’s investors. Following its announcement, H2O Innovation stock surged by nearly 17%

Water treatment facilities play a notable part in the operations of massive factories like Gigafactory Texas. H2O Innovation did not provide details about how its reverse osmosis trains will be utilized in the upcoming electric vehicle production facility, though such systems are typically used to remove unwanted salts and contaminants from a feedwater stream. 

Gigafactory Texas will be one of Tesla’s most unique production facilities to date, part of which will likely be due to the fact that it will be manufacturing the company’s most unique vehicle, the steel Cybertruck. Working with steel typically consumes a notable amount of water; something that will likely be optimized by the electric car maker for its Cybertruck production. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us for news tips. Just send a message to tips@teslarati.com to give us a heads up

Tesla Giga Texas’ water treatment facilities take form with Canada-based firm’s contract

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-gigafactory-texas-water-treatment-contractor-announced/

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SpaceX’s second Super Heavy booster enters production in South Texas

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In a rare burst of visible activity, SpaceX’s South Texas Starship factory has begun fabricating a second Super Heavy booster and taken a significant step forward on the first prototype.

Set to be the largest operational rocket stage ever built by more than a factor of two, Super Heavy is the booster tasked with launching a fully fueled and loaded Starship (~1400 mT or 3 million lbs) out of the bulk of Earth’s atmosphere. Powered by up to 28 Raptor engines, Super Heavy and Starship will weigh upwards of 5000 metric tons (~11 million lbs) and produce anywhere from 5600 to 7700 metric tons (12.5-17 million lbf) of thrust at liftoff.

Most importantly, though SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has noted that an optimized Starship might be able to reach orbit on a one-way trip, a giant, reasonably efficient booster like Super Heavy is necessary to send Starship into a healthy orbit with all the extra hardware and mass needed to make the orbital spaceship reusable. More than twice as heavy and two-thirds as tall as SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket, that will be no small feat.

(SpaceX)

Following the appearance of Super Heavy booster number 1’s (BN1) unique common dome, extra-large ‘transfer tube’ segments, and a donut-like eight-Raptor thrust section last month, visible booster work settled down for the next several weeks. In the interim, Musk revealed that SpaceX aims to hop the first Super Heavy booster (BN1) just “a few months” into 2021, followed by the bombshell that the CEO wants to eventually catch Super Heavy boosters to avoid the need for landing legs entirely.

Two weeks after that latest info from Musk and a month after major booster-related factory activity, the first hardware intended for Super Heavy prototype BN2 was spotted on January 19th. Featuring a never-before-seen structural addition in the form of what looks like a hexagonal or octagonal steel ring, the booster’s unique forward dome represents the first real evidence of the modifications needed to install a variety of hardware specific to Super Heavy.

The limited nature and number of current views make it hard to conclude with certainty that the BN2 forward dome’s add-on is hexagonal or octagonal – either could technically be made to work. Barring a surprise design change, Super Heavy – like Falcon 9 and Heavy boosters – will sport four equally spaced grid fins and use them to ensure aerodynamic stability and control authority from hypersonic to supersonic velocities. Based on official SpaceX graphics, Super Heavy’s grid fins will be built out of welded steel, measure some 7 meters (23 ft) tall, and likely weigh 5+ metric tons apiece, thus requiring extremely powerful actuation systems and strong structural support.

Like Falcon 9 boosters, Super Heavy will rely on four giant grid fins – fins that need complex actuator systems and structural support. (Richard Angle)

Meanwhile, beyond Super Heavy BN2’s first visible appearance, the process of assembling the first booster prototype also took a significant step forward. Sometime on January 19th, SpaceX ended a long period of inactivity, stacking the first Super Heavy ring sections since November 2020. More specifically, SpaceX teams appear to have installed either one or two four-ring sections on an existing booster segment already inside the high bay.

If at rest on top of the rest of the stack in Mary’s (BocaChicaGal) latest photo, one of two Super Heavy ‘stacks’ inside the high bay is now 12 rings (three sections) tall, representing almost a third of a complete 70-meter (~230 ft) tall booster. As of the most recent look inside the high bay, there were two separate stacks of Super Heavy rings – one with four and the other with eight. Based on the location of the new 12-ring stack, it’s more likely than not that SpaceX has simply combined the 12 rings last seen inside the high bay rather than adding one or two new ring sections to one of the two separate stacks.

Ultimately, the return of Super Heavy stacking activity after a two-month pause is an encouraging sign that SpaceX has settled on a design for the first few prototype boosters and could, in fact, be ready to start testing BN1 “a few months” from now.

SpaceX’s second Super Heavy booster enters production in South Texas

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-second-super-heavy-booster-production/

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Global sales of EVs like Tesla rises 43% in 2020 amidst fossil fuel cars’ decline

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Sales of electric vehicles across the globe saw a notable surge in 2020, rising 43% to more than 3 million units by the end of the year. This was despite the presence of a pandemic that resulted in overall car sales slumping by a fifth in 2020. In a way, these figures highlight the notion that EVs are now being preferred by more and more consumers. 

Tesla, the global leader in EVs, led the charge, selling half a million cars during 2020. Volkswagen, a veteran automaker that has also made serious strides in embracing electric mobility, also performed well thanks to vehicles like Porsche Taycan and Volkswagen ID.3, both of which were received well. Data from Sweden-based consultancy EV-volumes.com reveal that EV sales actually doubled in Europe last year, pushing the region past China as the world’s largest electric vehicle market. 

In a statement to The Guardian, Viktor Irle, sales and marketing analyst at the Sweden-based consultancy, stated that rising EV sales were driven partly by government policies designed to reduce carbon emissions, as well as the fact that electric cars are now being perceived as superior to their internal combustion-powered counterparts. 

“The political push is still there – [governments] everywhere speak about the green recovery. But the main reason for growth is simple – electric cars are a better technology. There is no noise, no pollution, better acceleration, and cheaper running costs. If people test-drive an electric car, they’re not going to go back to gasoline vehicles. The problem at the moment is that the price is a little bit higher, but the cost is really coming down as well,” Irle said. 

Granted, electric vehicle sales from March to June 2020 fell below their 2019 figures. This was understandable considering that those months represented the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns. But after this period, EV sales recovered in impressive fashion, and by the end of the year, they were double their level in December 2019. 

Irle explained several factors that contributed to these impressive figures. For one, higher government regulations meant that EV buyers are incentivized to purchase clean vehicles. Tesla’s approach of directly selling vehicles to customers may also have helped buyers embrace EVs more due to its convenience. Interestingly enough, the premium price of electric cars may have also helped boost their sales numbers. “The cheap car segments are always the worst hit in recessions, because it’s not normally high-income people that buy those cars,” the analyst noted. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us for news tips. Just send a message to tips@teslarati.com to give us a heads up

Global sales of EVs like Tesla rises 43% in 2020 amidst fossil fuel cars’ decline

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-evs-sales-2020-vs-ice-decline/

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Automotive

The Boring Company ramps vehicle testing for LVCC Loop [video]

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company appears to be ramping vehicle testing at one of the stations for the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) Loop. The Boring Company (TBC) seems to be adamantly preparing to start transporting people around Sin City’s Convention Center complex by February 2021. 

A video of Boring Company’s vehicle testing in the LVCC Loop simulates how the people mover will function once it’s operational. It gives onlookers an idea about how people will get in and out of Tesla cars from both sides of the vehicles.  

Based on images and a video of LVCC Loop’s station 3, there were at least 10 Tesla vehicles navigating the tunneling system and testing it out.

(Credit: Cunninghams_right/Reddit)

The Boring Company, its LVCC Loop, and the Vegas Loop have received tremendous support from the city. Just last week, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) board agreed to pay The Boring Company up to $6.5 million to operate and manage the LVCC Loop from February 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022.

TBC will not charge fares for rides on the LVCC Loop. The LVCVA plans to generate income for the tunnels at the Las Vegas Convention Center through advertisements, sponsorships and facility rentals. 

Musk’s tunneling company will also be working on another project in Sin City called the Vegas Loop, which received unanimous approval by the Las Vegas City Council last month. The Vegas Loop will reach further into the city, transporting people to various entertainment and leisure destinations. TBC received permission to extend the Vegas Loop to the city’s Resort Corridor recently. 

Planning on visiting the LVCC Loop when it opens? We would love to hear from you about the ride. email us at tips@teslarati.com or reach out to me at maria@teslarati.com. 

Check out a short clip of The Boring Company’s test run below.

The Boring Company ramps vehicle testing for LVCC Loop

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/elon-musk-the-boring-company-las-vegas-loop-video/

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