Nikola (NKLA 6.38%) announced its first commercial shipments last month, and more related news today had the stock of the zero-emissions truck maker soaring by double digits early Wednesday. After popping as much as 11.5% this morning, as of 10:56 a.m. ET, Nikola shares are trading 6.3% higher.
Two items of note have investors pushing up shares in Nikola today. The company announced a new letter of intent from truckload hauler USA Truck to purchase 10 of Nikola's Tre battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Also, the company has dropped its $2 billion patent infringement lawsuit against Tesla, according to a Bloomberg report.
The lawsuit filed in 2018 claimed that Tesla's truck design infringed on existing design patents Nikola obtained for its prototype vehicle in 2016. Tesla filed a countersuit against Nikola, and as recently as Oct. 2021, Nikola responded to a court request related to the lawsuit. But now it has withdrawn the claim, and Tesla has also pulled its countersuit. Investors may look at the development as a sign the company has more important things on which to focus its resources.
That includes preparing to ship more of its Tre BEVs and growing a customer base. USA Truck plans to take 10 of Nikola's Tre trucks using one of Nikola's sales and dealer network companies for a "fleet-as-a-service" agreement. The dealer "will provide sales, service, maintenance, and energy infrastructure required to operate the Nikola Tre BEV trucks," according to the announcement.
The 10 trucks are expected to be delivered in the first half of 2022, and USA Truck has agreed to potentially purchase another 90 BEV or hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks over the next two years. As Nikola has struggled with credibility among investors, this latest sales agreement comes as a welcome development that helped push the stock up today.