Fuel-cell startup accusing EV specialist of copying its patented designs

Nikola has filed a lawsuit against Tesla, claiming the Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle (EV) firm copied the design of its One fuel-cell truck for the Semi.

The company is suing for US$2 billion ($2.66b) over alleged copying of design elements like the One's wraparound windscreen, aerodynamic fuselage design, the mid-entry door to the cabin, and front fender.

Nikola says the designs of the windscreen, fuselage and mid-entry doors are all unique in the trucking world – well, at least they were until Tesla allegedly copied them.

The US$2 billion figure is reportedly around the same value as Tesla's market cap after the Semi was revealed.

However, a Tesla spokesperson told the US's Market Watch that "it’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit".

Nikola first revealed the One in December 2016, featuring a 746kW/2700Nm hydrogen fuel-cell electric system, while the Tesla Semi made its debut nearly a year later in November 2017 – and while Elon Musk's company doesn't quote outputs, it claims the Semi will do 0-60mph (0-96km/h) without a trailer in 5.0 seconds.

Both trucks are scheduled to commence production during 2019-2020, with Nikola claiming at the One's reveal that it already has accepted nearly US$3 billion ($3.99b) in "future orders".

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