Tesla hit with $2bn truck lawsuit

Nikola One presentation

Nikola One presentation

Nikola unveiled its vehicle in May 2016 and says that, after seeing a teaser image of Tesla's semi, it asked the company on November 7, 2017 not to debut its truck until the issues could be resolved, but that Tesla went ahead with a public event on November 16, 2017.

Tesla Inc. was hit with a $2 billion infringement lawsuit from the startup alternative fuel vehicle manufacturer Nikola Corp., which alleged in Arizona federal court Tuesday that Tesla stole its design for a semi truck.

The company alleges it sent Tesla a letter on November 7, 2017, less than 10 days before it revealed its all-electric semi, that it had "identified the semi-truck design features Nikola was patenting and demanded that Tesla not unveil its semi until Tesla's infringement had been resolved". More than two months later, Nikola claims that a recruiter for Tesla reached out asking if he set something up to study and talk with them about their own design.

Yes, you read it right, Tesla is being sued by Nikola.

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The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Nikola Motor Company six design patents between February 2018 and April 2018, protecting the use of the Nikola One's "wrap windshield, mid-entry door, fuselage, fender, side cladding, and the overall design of a semi", all of which Nikola says are unique in the trucking industry.

Almost three months after publishing its design, Nikola says Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed his company was in the early stages of developing its own all-electric semi. And it claims the similarities in the look of the two trucks is more than coincidental.

Production on Tesla's all-electric semi, priced between $150,000 and $200,000, will start in 2019. Further, any problems with the Tesla Semi will be attributed to the Nikola One, causing harm to the Nikola brand.

Neither Nikola nor Tesla has delivered a semi truck to a customer yet.

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In January, Nikola announced it would build a $1-billion factory in Arizona, where it plans to manufacture its trucks, none of which are on the road yet. Nikola has previously said that it would build 360 hydrogen fueling stations in the US.

A spokesperson for Tesla said in an email that it's "patently obvious there is no merit in this lawsuit".

Nikola has requested a trial by jury.

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