Tesla hit with $2B patent lawsuit over electric semi truck

Nikola Motor, a startup developing a hydrogen-electric semi truck, has sued Tesla for allegedly stealing designs for its own big rig.

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Nikola is seeking more than $2 billion in damages, arguing that Tesla violated the company’s patents in developing the Tesla Semi. The lawsuit said Nikola obtained design patents for some features of its truck. It claims that Tesla copied those features in the Tesla Semi.

“It’s patently obvious there is no merit to this lawsuit,” a Tesla spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, Nikola announced plans to construct a $1 billion plant in Arizona, and deliveries of a new long-haul electric truck are slated to begin as early as 2020. The Nikola One is projected to have a range of up to 1,000 miles on one tank of hydrogen fuel. Customers have ordered more than 8,000 trucks, according to the company.

Tesla has received orders from several large companies, including Anheuser-Busch, UPS and Walmart, ahead of the Semi’s expected production date of 2019.

Other companies, including Navistar, are working on electric trucks as fleet operators search for ways to cut transportation costs.