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The Nikola One Trevor Milton Designed in His Basement, Maybe Bought from Rimac

Add another chapter to the Trevor Milton / Nikola drama, just weeks after its stock skyrocketed following a partnership with GM, followed by fraud and assault allegations, and Milton’s decision to step down as Nikola chairman and member of the board. Even their flagship design is full of hot air. Allegedly.
The Nikola One Trevor Milton supposedly designed in his basement may have been outsourced from Rimac designer 11 photos
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Back in 2016, Nikola unveiled the Nikola One prototype, a hydrogen-electric semi they claimed was “not a pusher” and “fully functional,” but that later turned out to be just a pusher that would never go into production. As Trevor Milton would have it (based on his own claims in a 2018 lawsuit against Tesla, in which he claimed Tesla stole the One design for its own Semi), he designed the One on his own, in “his basement.”

That claim is accurate only if Milton’s basement is in Croatia and “on his own means” he bought the concept from a designer working with Rimac Automobili. According to internal documentation obtained by the Financial Times (story via The Drive), Milton was in Croatia in 2015, meeting with Rimac people in order to collaborate on a series of unspecified projects.

The collaboration proved impossible, but Milton got to meet with Adriano Mudri, head designer at Rimac at the time. Mudri’s earlier diploma project was a semi concept called “Road Runner,” and Milton apparently liked it so much he paid several thousand dollars for it.

Back home, he used the “Road Runner” moniker for Nikola’s first semi project, which is either one huge coincidence or proof that the “Road Runner” was Nikola One before re-christening. Two people working with Nikola confirm for the Financial Times that this was no coincidence: and they have the receipts to prove it, including internal communication mentioning the “Nikola Roadrunner Project Prototype.”

This latest revelation is in accordance to what Tesla has been saying it its countersuit against Nikola, namely that Nikola can’t claim any patent infringement against Tesla over the One, since they’re not the original designers. In a statement to the same publication, Nikola acknowledges the Mudri connection but denies his work had any influence on the final design of One.

“The Nikola One truck was designed and patented by Nikola,” Nikola says. “It is commonplace to license third-party designs during vehicle development, and although early in the process Nikola purchased a license to Adriano Mudri's designs, he was not part of the design team and his designs are materially different from the design invented by Nikola for the Nikola One.”

Nikola has seen a genuine fall from grace in recent weeks. A report by Hindenburg Research accused the startup of “intricate fraud” for securing millions without making any actual products, which prompted an investigation by the SEC and the U.S. Department of Justice. Then, Trevor Milton was accused of sexual assault, and he stepped down from his position as Nikola chairman and board member, going completely dark online as well. Former GM executive Steve Girsky replaced him.


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