Nikola Pushes Back on Skeptics by Showcasing In-House Tech

(Bloomberg) — Nikola Corp. wants to put allegations of deception behind it with a push to showcase its own innovations and detail how it plans to get its clean-powered trucks to market.

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Executives at the embattled startup are talking to investors to rebut criticism it has no working prototypes and to clarify its business plans after the resignation of founder and former Chairman Trevor Milton. That effort includes highlighting technology with existing or pending patents, explaining the role partners will play and providing better milestones on efforts to start production.

“Our message is the same as it was before,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell in an interview. “We have an ecosystem of partners that have validated what we’re doing. We believe we’re within three years of producing a fuel cell truck and one year of producing a battery-powered truck.”

Nikola executives will also use planned and direct communication to media and investors instead of the social media posts that Milton favored, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, who asked not to be identified.

The charm offensive is an attempt to counter investor skepticism about Nikola’s business model in the wake of a short-seller report last month that questioned the company’s capabilities and claims of progress. Nikola has denied misrepresenting itself, but federal regulators are reportedly examining the allegations against the company and Milton, who has been accused of unrelated harassment claims that he denies.

Shares of the company have fallen almost 50% from their price after going public in June through a reverse merger. The stock pared a decline of as much as 9.3% on Tuesday, trimming losses in early afternoon trading. The stock was down 6.2% to $18.10 as of 1:30 p.m. in New York.

Patents and Software

Nikola has forged technology-sharing relationships with automotive titans Robert Bosch GmbH and General Motors Co., both of which own stakes in the company. That helps underpin the company’s work — and potential value — as a systems integrator for its fast-track projects, including a battery-electric pickup truck and hydrogen fuel-cell semi trucks.

The Phoenix-based startup is also anxious to show investors in-house know-how, including six published patents in the U.S. for innovations such as a purpose-built frame for a fuel-cell truck. It also has several other U.S. patents pending for things like fuel-cell membranes and catalysts, hydrogen storage, fast fueling systems and system control technologies, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News.

While these patents represent future potential, they are many years away from commercialization, according to a person familiar with the matter. For the time being, Nikola will rely on Bosch’s fuel cells for prototypes to be built next year. GM’s fuel-cell technology is viewed by Nikola as more mature than Bosch’s, but it will take a longer time for the fuel cell’s packaging, compression and power management systems to be adjusted to fit the design of Nikola’s trucks, the person said.

Nikola plans to show investors its competitive edge in hydrogen-powered vehicles that

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Houston Botanic Garden Officially Opens, Showcasing Bayou City’s Biodiversity in New Living Museum for Plants – Press Release

HOUSTON–(Business Wire)–Houstonians no longer have to take the Gulf Freeway all the way to Galveston to escape to an island, now that the Houston Botanic Garden, the city’s new living museum for plants, has opened its gates today to the public, just east of I-45 South on Park Place Blvd. Approximately half of the Garden’s 132 acres – which was once a municipal golf course – are on the Island, a feature completely surrounded by the original Sims Bayou meander on three sides, and the later Sims channel to its south.

The Houston Botanic Garden has transformed the Island, and the adjacent South Gardens on the opposite side of the Sims channel, into an oasis of learning, discovery, and horticultural beauty, with outdoor gallery spaces displaying a collection of tropical, sub-tropical, and arid plants from around the world to showcase the biodiversity that thrives along the Texas Gulf Coast.

“Adding a world-class botanic garden to enhance the breadth and depth of Houston’s cultural offerings has been a long time in the making,” said Claudia Gee Vassar, president and general counsel of the Houston Botanic Garden. “We believe the benefits of an extensive outdoor museum like the Houston Botanic Garden will be especially desirable at a time when so many are looking to engage with and be inspired by nature.”

Through its design and programming, the Garden, a collaboration with West 8, an award-winning international landscape designer, seeks to enrich lives through discovery, education, and the conservation of plants and the natural environment.

“The intent of the site design is to seek balance in all aspects, from planting and soils, through topography and materials—the careful juxtaposition of order and chaos that is at the heart of enduring gardens,” said Donna Bridgeman-Rossi, PLA, director of implementation, West 8 NY. “With this being Houston’s first garden of this kind, it was exciting to be working with a client group that not only expects best practice but is open to the complexities required to push status quo into new territory or specification.”

Each time visitors come to the Houston Botanic Garden, they will exchange the bustle of the city for the enveloping serenity of multiple features, which include:

  • Global Collection Garden: Three acres of regionally themed zones that demonstrate the wide variety of diverse and beautiful plants from around the world that flourish in Houston’s climate.
  • Culinary Garden: An artistic display of edible and medicinal plants – many of which visitors could grow in their own yards – that have served as a basis for economic and cultural exchange across the history of the world.
  • Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden: A sensory-engaging area that presents opportunities for families to engage with nature in a variety of ways, including a boardwalk maze around a lagoon; simple water machines, and nature play structures crafted from trees that previously grew on the property.
  • Woodland Glade: An intimate-yet-open space that visitors can rent – beginning later in the fall – to host weddings and other celebrations under a
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