What happened

Shares of VectoIQ Acquisition (VTIQ) were up sharply on Friday on growing investor interest in the company's pending merger with electric tractor-trailer maker Nikola Motors.

As of 1:30 p.m. EDT, VectoIQ's shares were up about 21.4% from Thursday's closing price.

So what

There's no big news moving the shares of VectoIQ, which at the moment is just a holding company led by former General Motors vice chairman Stephen Girsky. Instead, investors seem to be getting excited about the company's pending merger with Nikola after Nikola confirmed earlier this week that the merger is on track to close in the first two weeks of June.

It's clear why tech-focused auto investors are excited. Nikola is a serious, well-financed start-up that will enter the zero-emissions electric heavy-truck space next year, and the merger will make it a public company.

Nikola's electric tractor-trailers will give buyers a choice of two different sources of power. Some will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, devices that chemically convert the energy in hydrogen gas to electricity. Others will be powered by battery packs, using a proprietary new battery technology that is being developed with a $250 million investment from CNH Industrial's (CNHI -1.06%) truck-making IVECO unit.

A Nikola tractor-trailer truck.

Nikola's big trucks are all electric, with zero emissions. Image source: Nikola Motor.

Now what

Investors (I'm one) who keep stumbling over the VectoIQ name will get relief soon: The company will be renamed Nikola Corporation after the merger closes in June.

And beyond that? Nikola expects to launch its battery-electric trucks in 2021, with the fuel-cell versions following about two years later. It has more than 14,000 preorders, which, once filled, will generate more than $10 billion in revenue.