Tuesday Ticker: Nikola’s former CEO charged; Tesla could save big bucks by eliminating ultrasonic sensors

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— It’s electric in this weekly Tuesday Ticker as Nikola Corp.’s founder and former CEO is charged with fraud; Rivian recalls a slew of freshly-delivered vehicles and an analyst makes estimates on Tesla’s upcoming cash savings. 

Milton gets charged

Trevor Milton, founder of electric truckmaker Nikola Corp., has been found guilty of fraud over statements he made while CEO of the company. 

Milton was ultimately charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of securities fraud, all related to statements he made regarding Nikola’s business while he was acting as CEO and chairman of the company.

He maintained he “did nothing wrong” and was only “talking about a business plan.” 

Damien Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Milton lied “over and over again” to Nikola’s investors. One of these lies involved letting the Nikola One semi-truck “in motion” as the company let the vehicle roll down a hill. 

Milton resigned as CEO of the company in 2020. He faces up to 25 years in prison and will be sentenced on January 27. 

Rough start for Rivian

On October 7, Rivian issued a recall on nearly all of its vehicles, saying it needed to tighten a loose fastener that could potentially affect the ability to steer.

The EV automaker said the recall affects 13,000 vehicles, wherein the fasteners may not be torqued enough.

The company expects to finish repairs on all affected units in the next 30 days, provided customers coordinate with the OEM for repairs. 

Rivian’s stock is down 70 percent year-to-date, trading at US$30.48 on Monday afternoon. The automaker has yet to deliver any vehicles to Canada. 

Inside Tesla’s wallet

Tesla’s recent decision to stop using ultrasonic sensors (USS) in its cars will reportedly save the electric automaker roughly US114 per vehicle, said Mike Lane, an analyst from Munro & Associates.

While the figures have not been verified by Tesla, Lane said each Tesla comes equipped with about a dozen USS, at a cost of US$8 each. That would make the cost of sensors alone US$96, said Lane. 

The electric automaker also spends on eight heat-staked brackets at $0.15 apiece; installation and labour add another US$1.80 per car.

Each vehicle also requires two wire harnesses for the fascia at US$2.20 each; two wiring connectors for the dash, costing US$0.40 and two integrated circuits at US$5 each. 

Tesla plans to build more than two million cars next year. If it omits USS from those models as planned, the automaker could save more than US$200 million in 2023 alone.


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