Nikola, a start-up company that develops hydrogen trucks, raised waves for more than two years when it sued Tesla, arguing that the Tesla Semi was a copy based on designs made by Nikola. Tesla has filed a response which notes that Nikola stole the design from a concept made by Adriano Mudri, a renowned automotive designer.
The filing argues that Mudri designed the Road Runner concept truck in 2010, and the design was submitted for the 2010 Michelin Design Challenge. It was also featured at the 2010 North American International Auto Show
In addition, Tesla also noted that Mudri and Trevor Milton, the founder of Nikola, met and remained in contact throughout 2014 and 2015. Milton was familiar with the Road Runner design when Nikola requested the patents, which were then used to sue Tesla.
Milton and Steve Jennes, a Nikola designer, are listed as the creators of the Nikola designs on the applications, despite the fact that elements of the concept designed by Mudri can be identified easily. The fact that Mudri’s work hasn’t been acknowledged is also a reason to deem the patents invalid.
Nikola has already announced that it will analyze the counterclaim made by Tesla, with a response coming in the future. However, it seems that legal woes with Tesla are far from being the only issues faced by the company in recent months, and the future is rather grim.
A recent report notes that the company hasn’t managed to create a functional version of the Hydrogen One truck, leading to negative feedback from worried investors. Fraud allegations have floated around for a few years, with some arguing that Nikola failed to offer competitive products that would attract customers. Milton had also left the company last week, and plans to establish a network of hydrogen fueling stations have run into difficulties.