The German top manager Michael Lohscheller has joined Nikola Motor. The US manufacturer of battery and fuel cell trucks has appointed Lohscheller as president of the company. The former Opel CEO and short-term head of Vietnamese automotive start-up VinFast will report to CEO Mark Russell as president of Nikola.
Nikola says that in his new post, Lohscheller will be responsible for scaling the company’s global truck business. At the end of December, the German manager stepped down as CEO of VinFast after only four months. It was said at the time that Lohscheller was returning to Europe for personal reasons. The DPA wrote, citing Lohscheller’s surroundings, “that contact with the family had suffered under the pandemic conditions”. He now wants to explore offers from Europe.
Now it turns out he will be working for an American company. Whether Lohscheller will work from the USA or Europe is not clear from his new employer’s announcement. Nikola is full of praise for the manager and points to the turnaround to profitability that Opel achieved under his leadership.
“Michael Lohscheller brings several decades of direct automotive industry expertise to our already accomplished leadership team at Nikola,” says CEO Mark Russell. “His role will be immediately pivotal as the Nikola Tre BEV moves into production, and as we continue to achieve development milestones for the Nikola Tre FCEV.”
Steve Girsky, chairman of the Nikola board of directors, will also have played a role in Lohscheller’s signing. The long-time GM executive was chairman of Opel’s supervisory board as a representative of the US carmaker when Lohscheller was appointed to the German company’s board in 2012. The two worked together there for several years. “As Nikola moves into global production, an experienced and respected industry veteran like Michael strengthens the Nikola team,” Girsky says. “He knows his way around the manufacturing floors, board rooms and showrooms and has worked with the latest technologies throughout his career. We are pleased to welcome Michael to the team.”
Lohscheller not only laid the foundations for Opel’s transition to an all-electric brand (after similar plans by Karl-Thomas Neumann were still rejected by then-owner GM), but he also kept the development of fuel cell technology within the PSA Group and later the Stellantis Group at Opel. Lohscheller will need the experience with hydrogen at Nikola.
“It goes without saying that hydrogen, fuel cell and battery electric zero-emission vehicles are the future of mobility and I am very proud to become part of a company that is paving the way for this global transformation,” says Lohscheller. “My career has prepared me well to achieve the ambitious milestones required to make this happen.”
After a very troubled period with the collapsed GM deal and fraud allegations including the retirement of founder and then CEO Trevor Milton, Nikola has returned to calmer waters under Russell. Although the company had to cut its delivery targets, it was able to deliver the first Nikola Tre BEV shortly before Christmas. Since then, the company has received further orders and letters of intent for the purchase of BEV and FCEV trucks.
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