In November last year Tesla revealed the Tesla Semi – a fully electric truck that will have a range up to 800km and be able to haul a forty tonne trailer. It looks and sounds quite impressive, but the Nikola Motor Company (a zero-emissions truck startup) wasn’t so enthusiastic.
In fact, the company believes that the Tesla Semi is infringing upon several of its design patents. So it’s suing for $US2 billion.
Yeah, we are amused by the company names too.
Nikola is claiming that the Tesla Semi closely resembles its hydrogen-fuel cell truck, the Nikola One. They submitted the patent for the vehicle design in December 2015 and revealed the prototype in December 2016.
According to Arstechnica, teaser images for the Tesla Semi appeared in April 2017 and Nikola claims that it emailed Tesla a week before the Semi prototype was publicly revealed. The purpose of the contact was to inform Tesla that certain features from the April teaser infringed on Nikola’s patented design. Nikola also apparently asked Telsa to not unveil the Semi until the infringement had been resolved.
Tesla apparently never responded.
Nikola has alleged that the similarities between the two designs are in the wraparound windshields, fuselage and side door and that this has created market confusion, as well as hurt its ability to attract investors and partners.
The lawsuit complaint mentions the rise in Tesla’s stock price after it announced the Semi, stating that the company’s market value rose by roughly $US2 billion.
A Tesla spokesperson has denied Nikola’s allegations and claims that there is no merit to the lawsuit.
The Tesla Semi is supposed to go into production next year and the nikola One in 2020.
You can read the entire lawsuit here.