Ex-Opel CEO Lohscheller named Nikola president

Europe

Former Opel CEO Michael Lohscheller has been hired by Nikola as president and tasked with helping the U.S. electric truck maker ramp up production.

Lohscheller joins Nikola after a short stint as CEO of VinFast Global, the automotive arm of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup.

Lohscheller arrived at VinFast in July 2021 but stepped down five months later and moved back to Europe for personal reasons, according to the company.

Prior to that he was served as CEO at Opel under three different parent companies: General Motors, PSA Group and Stellantis.

GM agreed to sell Opel to PSA Group in 2017 and PSA merged with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2021 to form Stellantis.

After losing tens of billions under GM ownership, Opel’s finances were brought into the black by Lohscheller, who was named an Automotive News Europe Eurostar in 2019 for his role in the German brand’s turnaround.

Before leaving Opel Lohscheller announced that it would be an electric-only brand in Europe by 2028.

“As Nikola moves into global production, an experienced and respected industry veteran like Michael strengthens the Nikola team,” Stephen Girsky, Nikola board chairman said in a statement. “He knows his way around the manufacturing floors, board rooms and showrooms and has worked with the latest technologies throughout his career.”

Lohscheller’s career has also included roles in finance, technology, purchasing and logistics at Mitsubishi Europe and Volkswagen, where he was VW Group of America executive vice president. He will report to Nikola CEO Mark Russell.

Nikola’s first battery-powered models are scheduled to be delivered to customers in the U.S. early next year, with a fuel cell version slated to follow by the end of 2023. The vehicles will be manufactured in Germany.

Nikola has been trying to bounce back from a credibility crisis spurred by inaccurate statements its founder Trevor Milton made before and after its merger with a Girsky-led special purpose acquisition company in June 2020.

Milton resigned in September 2020, and federal prosecutors accused him in July of last year of lying to investors about Nikola’s business and capabilities. He has pleaded not guilty.

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