Here's a murky tale of alleged design theft. In 2018 electric semi truck startup Nikola sued Tesla, claiming the Tesla Semi ripped off the design of the Nikola One. Electric transportation news website Electrek dismissed it as a clear case of patent trolling, but earlier this year a court upheld Nikola's patents, and it looked like Tesla would have to cough up $2 billion.
Industrial designer Adriano Mudri is currently the Director of Design for Rimac. Ten years ago, when he was a freelance designer working for the likes of Lamborghini and Opel, Mudri submitted his designs for an electric "Road Runner" semi to a Michelin-sponsored design competition:
These designs, Tesla said, were what the Nikola One was based on.
Now, however, it's come to light that Milton had in fact paid Mudri for his designs, but left his name off of the patent for the following reasons, according to the Financial Times:
"The Nikola One truck was designed and patented by Nikola. It is commonplace to license third-party designs during vehicle development, and although early in the process Nikola purchased a license to Adriano Mudri's designs, he was not part of the design team and his designs are materially different from the design invented by Nikola for the Nikola One."
So where is all of this going? Heaven only knows, as Nikola suddenly has bigger problems: Trevor Milton has abruptly resigned and shut down his Twitter account after a family member accused him of sexual assault. A second woman has also come forward to file a sexual assault claim, and it looks like Nikola's partnership deal with GM, which was in the works, may be stalling.