Locked in a Tesla patent suit, Nikola nabs $210M at $1.1B valuation for hydrogen trucks

Nikola, the hydrogen trucking startup currently suing Tesla for patent infringement (those are the actual names, sorry spirit of real Nikola Tesla), today announced that it has raised $210 million in its Series C round of funding. The company had previously announced in August that it had raised $100 million of the round; now it has closed it out.

The company has confirmed to us that the round was done at a $1.1 billion valuation.

In a short note announcing the news, Nikola described it as “oversubscribed” after racking up $12 billion in pre-orders, with $380 million of those specifically for its newest model, called the Tre European designed for the Europe market.

Pending regulation in Europe that aims to reduce diesel emissions from heavy-duty vehicles — which produce one-quarter of all CO2 emissions in Europe — are leading transport companies and others to search for viable alternatives, and this has partly fuelled interest in the company, it seems.

Nikola said that the cost per-mile for its Tre truck is also expected to be 10-20 percent less than diesels. “Once the Nikola Tre arrives in Europe, diesel will finally be on its way out, ” said CEO Trevor Milton in a statement. Ultimately, Nikola aims to sell trucks in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia.

That rush for more efficient and eco-friendly trucking vehicles is also in part behind the lawsuit with Tesla. Nikola claims that Tesla has stolen its designs for its truck from its Nikola One and is winning business through market confusion.

“Tesla’s design has caused confusion among customers,” the company wrote in its suit. “The confusion has diverted sales from Nikola to Tesla. Further, any problems with the Tesla Semi will be attributed to the Nikola One, causing harm to the Nikola brand.” But in the meantime, Tesla has secured its own patents for its trucking design. Nikola would not comment on the case today, as it is still ongoing.

Existing investors in Nikola include the strategics Nel Hydrogen, a Norwegian company that is also helping it build filling stations; and Wabco, an automotive OEM, and Nikola has said that it is not releasing the names of any other investors at the moment.