What happened

Shares of electric commercial truck start-up Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) have been bouncing around this week. After jumping Tuesday, the stock reversed course today. Shares were trading down 6.5% as of 2:20 p.m. EDT. 

So what

The volatility comes as the concept of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles is getting more press. Yesterday, an announcement from Korean automaker Hyundai on the topic was widely reported by CNBC. Nikola has been developing both battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric semitrucks and plans to have its first one commercially available by the end of the year.

Nikola Tre battery electric truck in front of concrete structure.

Image source: Nikola.

Reports that a major automaker plans to have all of its vehicle models available with hydrogen fuel cell power by 2028 potentially helps to support Nikola's business strategy. But it also brings competition that might explain why shares reversed direction today, giving up all of yesterday's gains and more. 

Now what

Hyundai also collaborates with Canada-based Hydrogen Technology & Energy Corporation, which was also in the news today regarding hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. HTEC announced a $170 million investment that will help it "to develop new low-carbon hydrogen projects and to increase its network of stations supporting cars and heavy vehicles."

The investment by industrial gas and technology equipment company Chart Industries (NYSE:GTLS) grows Chart's stake in HTEC to 25% ownership. The deal also gives Chart preferential rights to increase ownership should another investing partner decide to sell its stake in the future.

As mentioned, the expanding growth of the hydrogen economy could be seen as both positive and negative for Nikola. Winners and losers won't be filtered out until much further into the life cycle. For today, it seems more investors are thinking increasing competition is a net negative for Nikola's future potential.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.