Nikola, the electric-truck startup that found itself in a full-throated yelling match with a short-seller last Thursday, has been playing defense this week — and it’s not clear if investors are completely convinced.
After initially promising a tit-for-tat rebuttal within the day, the company, presumably on the advice of well-heeled counsel, released a full response on Monday to Hindenburg Research’s allegations of lies, deception, and outright fraud. For the most part, the company’s response flatly denied most of the accusations against it — but many require a little nuance.
Perhaps most notably, the company would like you to know that its truck did, in fact, simply roll down a hill for a video shoot. However, the video was not a lie, Nikola said, because it was shot by a third party and never insinuated the truck was actually moving on its own power.
As for the other allegations, even Wall Street’s top analysts have brushed off most concerns in the Hindenburg allegations, given that they had to do with things that occurred before Nikola’s full launch or at founder Trevor Milton’s previous companies. Still, investors haven’t been fully won over, and the stock is at its lowest levels since July — well before Nikola’s $2 billion deal with General Motors deal was announced.
Board member and early investor Jeffrey Ubben was also on the defense this week, saying he pushed Trevor & Co. to go public too soon. The real story here, he told Bloomberg and the Financial Times, is Nikola’s plans for hydrogen sales — not the trucks that have made up its only announcements and products so far.
Read on below for more news from this week, including new data that could be good news for weary travelers, Uber’s continued struggles in London and Arizona, cruise lines, U-Haul, and more. And if you haven’t yet, sign up here to get this newsletter in your inbox every week.
Airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population — and airline CEOs say it’s proof that flying is safe
Some (perhaps surprising) data from airline workers shows that flight attendants and other airline employees have had a lower incidence of COVID-19 than the general population. Airline executives and union leaders say that’s a sign that the safety measures airlines are taking on airplanes are having an effect.
Data from the Association of Flight Attendants shows that a little over 1,000 flight attendants nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19, or a 0.8% incidence rate, if we count it from the roughly 122,000 US flight attendants as of the end of 2019. The number includes the association’s members, as well as members of other unions and nonunionized workers.
There had been a total of 6.6 million confirmed cases in the US as of Thursday, according to data from The New York Times, putting national incidence rates at about 2%.
Uber’s struggles continue in Arizona and London
Two long-running Uber storylines are drawing nearer to an end.
In Arizona, the driver of a self-driving car that struck and killed a pedestrian in 2018 was charged with negligent homicide. Rafaela Vasquez, who was found to have been watching a video on her phone at the time, pleaded not guilty. The case is likely to set many precedents for our driverless future, since it is likely the first case of a death caused by self-driving vehicles. Uber notably was already chided by the National Transportation Safety Board last year for an “inadequate safety culture.”
And across the pond, the company’s fighting for its life in London. This week, it agreed to hand over private data on drivers and riders to police as part of efforts to keep its license in the city. Uber’s eventual fate there is set to be decided on September 28.