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Nikola Founder’s Conviction a Stark Reminder That Fuel Cell EVs are Verboten

Now a convicted felon, Nikola’s founder and former chairman may be in prison for 20 years. But we doubt it.

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Financial crimes are often those with the most severe sentences in America. We all know Al Capone’s story. It will be interesting to see how many decades Nikola’s founder, Trevor Milton, is sentenced to at his upcoming sentencing hearing. From some perspective, the modern age of electric vehicles is about ten years running now. Mr. Milton could be in prison for twice that.

If you are an EV fan not familiar with the successful electric vehicle company called Nikola, it’s likely because there never was one in the sense that the company made and delivered EVs to owners in big numbers. Mr. Milton’s conviction sort of boils down to that fact. Technically, he lied to investors by rigging a demonstration of an EV semi-truck that was seen rolling down a hill as if by its own power. As if.

Mr. Milton’s pretend trucks were pretending to run on hydrogen. Ahh. Here is the trigger word for most EVangelists. Hydrogen. The ultimate sin Mr. Milton may have committed was to jump the fence from battery-electric to hydrogen-electric propulsion. We all know the HFCEV folks are up to no good and really just want the big oil companies to end up owning our DNA.

We spent a moment getting a Google-cation on Securites fraud. Information we uncovered about that class-C felony is that the crime carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years of imprisonment. However, that sentence will likely be reduced for those white-collar criminals who have dynamite haircuts and wear glasses that augment their snappy two-days growth of beard to court. Throw in sentence mitigation for a perfect full Windsor knot, and we suspect Mr. Milton will basically walk. I mean, it’s not like the guy smuggled THC into Russia. Am I right?

If public companies’ exaggerating EV claims were really a crime, the United States would need to build more prisons. A lot more. And they would need to be outfitted with a Starbucks on every level. Do you know how hard it is to staff a coffee shop these days? The one nearest my home is within pennies of offering $20 to start.

Perhaps the neatest thing about this crazy conviction for faking an EV’s capabilities is that it wasn’t the government that did the investigating. Nah, it was Hindenburg LLC. As in a limited liability company. Back when Nikola was rolling EVs down hills and pretending they were powered by single-atom gases with their electron stripped by a magic fuel cell, Hindenburg started very rudely tweeting that it was a sham. That’s a bold statement about an EV since, in America, it is a crime to bad mouth EVs. Luckily, Nikola wasn’t pretending to build BEVs, or the company’s liability limits would likely have been tested.

Tell us in the comments below if you are more likely to visit Mr. Milton during his likely (short) prison stay or buy a hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle in our comments section below.

Image of Nikola founder's indictment courtesy of the DOJ media page. Any factual information presented in this work of satire and sarcasm is strictly accidental.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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