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Nikola Motor Co. has filed a $2 billion lawsuit alleging Tesla copied the fuselage, doors, fenders, wraparound windshield, and other aerodynamic features of the Nikola One hydrogen-electric hybrid truck for its own semi.
The petition says Nikola noticed the similarities in spy shots published online shortly before the reveal of the Tesla Semi. Nikola then sent a letter to Tesla demanding it not unveil the truck until the infringement was resolved. Nikola says the letter was ignored.
The Nikola One was unveiled on December 1, 2016 and is slated for production in 2020. The Tesla Semi was unveiled just short of a year later on November 16, 2017 and is slated for production next year.
“Tesla’s design has caused confusion among customers,” the petition says. “The confusion has diverted sales from Nikola to Tesla.”
A Tesla spokeswoman told Bloomberg that “it’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit.”
Founded in 2014, Utah-based Nikola has announced plans for two semi truck models. The company currently has an electric four-wheel UTV on the market and has teased plans for all-electric personal watercraft.
Nikola has a history of challenging Tesla. Both companies are named for inventor Nikola Tesla. Last month, Nikola announced that despite having more than $8 billion in preorders for its semi trucks, it would refund deposits on all reservations. The company said it “won’t use your money to operate our business,” which is an obvious shot at Tesla’s practice of using deposits as operating capital.
You can read the full petition here.