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Nikola stops work on electric watercraft and ATV projects

Nikola stops work on electric watercraft and ATV projects


The startup shuttered its Powersports division

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Image: Nikola Motors

Zero-emission trucking company Nikola has shuttered its so-called Powersports division and is pausing work on an electric personal watercraft and off-road vehicle first announced in April 2019. Nikola stopped work on the projects as part of a larger push to focus on getting its first hydrogen-powered truck out the door, following a number of stumbles in 2020. The decision cost the startup $14.4 million, according to a regulatory filing.

“We still own the NZT and WAV rights and have put the projects on pause. We may consider moving forward with them at a later time,” a spokesperson tells The Verge. “Right now we are focusing on commercial trucking and hydrogen infrastructure.”

Photos by Sean O’Kane / The Verge

Nikola started pursuing an electric watercraft back in 2017 after it bought up one of the more promising startups working on the idea. The off-road vehicle was a hybrid of sorts, mixing dune buggy styling with the kinds of comforts found in passenger cars, like air conditioning. Nikola was promising the so-called NZT vehicle would get 590 horsepower and 150 miles of range. It was supposed to come to market this year at a starting price of $80,000.

Both Powersports vehicles were a big focus of Nikola’s annual event in 2019, but the NZT in particular always seemed like a possible moneymaker for the startup considering the interest it generated from the defense industry.

The Powersports division is not the first casualty of Nikola’s rocky 2020. The startup’s pickup truck project crumbled after a falling out with General Motors, which was backing Nikola before accusations of fraud started flying.

Nikola announced the death of its Powersports division Thursday afternoon along with its 2020 financial results. The company reported a $384 million loss for the year, though it finished 2020 with $840 million in the bank, thanks to the money it generated when it went public earlier in the year.

Update February 25th, 10:30PM ET: Added information about the cost of shuttering the Powersports division.