What happened

Shares of embattled electric-truck start-up Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) were trading lower on Wednesday afternoon, after Bloomberg reported that a key executive has left the company.

As of 3 p.m. EDT today, Nikola's shares were down about 5.7% from Tuesday's closing price. 

So what

Bloomberg's Ed Ludlow reported that Jesse Schneider, who had been Nikola's executive vice president of technology, hydrogen, and fuel cells, left the company on April 1. 

Schneider had been leading teams working on fuel cell systems for Nikola's upcoming electric semi trucks, as well as a planned network of hydrogen refueling stations, according to the report. 

A Nikola Tre, a Class 7 electric semi truck, shown pulling a trailer on a highway.

Nikola plans to follow the launch of its battery-electric Tre, set for late this year, with a semi powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Those plans may now be in question after the executive leading the fuel-cell effort departed. Image source: Nikola.

Nikola has been working to regain auto investors' confidence after founder Trevor Milton left abruptly amid a scandal last year. The departure of Schneider, seen as a key member of the executive team, won't help that effort. 

Now what

Nikola is still hoping to launch its first truck, a battery-electric Class 7 semi called the Tre, by the end of 2021. The plan is to follow the Tre with a larger Class 8 electric semi called the Two, which will use hydrogen fuel cells supplied by General Motors (NYSE:GM). It's not clear whether Schneider's departure will affect those timelines. 

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