Nikola’s Trevor Milton bought semi design from someone else: report

  • Two people familiar with the matter said Trevor Milton bought the Nikola One’s design from a designer at EV brand Rimac Automobili, according to the Financial Times.
  • This is despite Nikola saying Milton was responsible for initially designing the One “in his basement.”
  • Nikola is currently involved in a $2 billion lawsuit with Tesla, claiming that the Tesla Semi is “substantially” similar in design to the Nikola One.
  • Tesla’s rebuttal to the lawsuit claims the Rimac designer whom Milton bought the designs from called the truck project “Road Runner.”
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The story with the Nikola One, zero-emissions brand Nikola’s hydrogen-electric semitruck, was that embattled company founder Trevor Milton designed it in his basement. But a new report from the Financial Times suggests otherwise. 

Two sources with knowledge on the matter, who were not named by the Financial Times, said Milton bought the original design for the Nikola One from a designer who works at Croatian EV brand Rimac Automobili.

The sources told the outlet that Milton purchased the truck’s designs from Adriano Mudri in 2015 after they met during a visit to Rimac’s headquarters in Croatia, authors Claire Bushey, Peter Campbell, and Ortenca Aliaj wrote. The designs were part of Mudri’s “earlier diploma project.”

Mudri’s own LinkedIn page lists him as Rimac’s director of design at the time, and the Financial Times reported that Milton bought the virtual 3D model and computer drawings of the truck for “several thousand dollars.” 

The findings refute Nikola’s claim that Milton designed the One “in his basement,” made during a 2018 lawsuit against Tesla. In the ongoing $2 billion suit, Nikola alleged patent infringements against Tesla, saying that the Tesla Semi is “substantially” similar in design to the One, Reuters reported at the time. 

The Financial Times reported