The US start-up Nikola specialising in fuel cell and battery trucks is losing Jesse Schneider, the previous head of its fuel cell development. Schneider is founding his own company.
Schneider was considered an important mind behind Nikola’s fuel cell plans. The engineer has been working on fuel cell vehicles since 2001, first for Mercedes-Benz North America, later for DaimlerChrysler. Via a station at Proton Motor Fuel Cell in Puchheim, Bavaria, he came to BMW, where he initially continued to work on FCEV projects. Before joining Nikola in March 2018, Schneider worked at BMW on plug-in hybrids and the wireless charging of the 530e.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Schneider founded the company ‘ZEV Station’, where he serves as CEO and CTO. The start-up aims to provide a charging and refuelling solution for ‘Zero Emission Vehicles’ – for both hydrogen-based and battery-electric mobility. ZEV Station is based in Los Angeles.
“It was my honour to lead the hydrogen and fuel-cell development teams of the Nikola Two and soon-to-be-released Tre Fuel Cell prototypes with Iveco and Bosch,” Schneider said in a statement emailed to US media. Nikola CEO Mark Russell insists Schneider left the company on good terms. “Jesse’s contribution over the last three years included helping Nikola build world-class fuel cell and hydrogen teams,” Russell said.
Nikola is not aiming to immediately fill Schneider’s position as vice president. According to Bloomberg, a spokesperson said the position is no longer needed as the company moves from the development to deployment phase.
In part, Schneider will likely compete with his old employer in the future since Nikola not only wants to build hydrogen trucks but also the necessary infrastructure, much like Tesla with its Superchargers. Nikola has already ordered electrolysers for this purpose. But if ZEV Station also builds more H2 filling stations, this could also help the spread of fuel cell trucks.
Last year, Nikola founder Trevor Milton resigned after allegations of fraud. After that, General Motors, Bosch and most recently Hanwha reduced the scope of their agreements and investments with the former stock market darling. Recently, the US start-up announced plans for fuel cell trucks with a 900-km-range.