Not even the innovative mind of Nikola Tesla could've foreseen his name divided among two publicly traded electric vehicle companies, but here we are.
Nikola Motor Company, which went public through an acquisition Friday, builds zero-emission semi-trucks and pickup trucks, powered by either batteries or hydrogen-electricity.
"The difference between Nikola and everybody else is that we provide the entire supply chain," Trevor Milton, founder and CEO of Nikola Motor, told Cheddar Thursday after his company started trading on the Nasdaq. "That means the truck, the fuel, the service, the warranty, and the maintenance."
Nikola has ambitions to build the largest hydrogen network in the world along pre-determined routes that commercial customers consistently travel along. Beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch has already ordered 800 hydrogen-electric powered semi-trucks from the company.
"You don't build that station until all trucks are ordered. That allows you to never lose money and never build on speculation," Milton said, adding that he expects his goal of a 700-station network to take more than seven years to accomplish.
Despite the recent global economic disruption, Milton says this was the perfect time to tap into the public equities market.
"Once Coronavirus opens up, we're going to get over to Germany, make sure that factory is ready to rock and roll, start spitting trucks out," Milton said, estimating it will take about 12 months to get production up and running.
Nikola also seems to have a complicated relationship with EV competitor Tesla. While Milton praises Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk as a trailblazer, Musk has called Nikola's core technology a "Fool" cell and tried to invalidate the company's semi-truck door patent.
"It's kind of cool," Milton said. "It's definitely a compliment they're coming in here because we launched our truck -- they followed us in the market."
After years of development, Nikola is less than one year away from generating revenue and its factory in Germany is nearly complete, according to Milton.
"We're the first trucking company in the world to bring a zero-emission truck to full production," Milton said proudly. "We beat Daimler, we beat Volvo, and we beat Tesla, and it's the coolest thing in the world to be able to say that."
While $NKLA got an unenthusiastic response from investors in its first official day of trading, Milton's optimistic outlook expands beyond his own company -- to his country.
"Nikola is America's comeback story," Milton said. "We get to create thousands of jobs and we get to set a standard for the world to follow, and I think that's why this moment is so perfect."