Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have already raised $7.5 billion for more than a dozen EV-related startups, but with relatively little to show for it, according to new data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
SPACs are publicly-listed shell corporations that join with startups in so-called reverse mergers, providing a shorter path for startups to go public than conventional initial public offerings (IPOs). So far, 13 of these reverse mergers have been completed, with 14 more expected in the second half of 2021, according to BNEF.
The list of completed SPACs includes high-profile startups aiming to manufacture vehicles, such as Nikola, Lordstown Motors, and Fisker Inc. These automaker hopefuls have raised the most cash, at $4.5 billion of the $7.5 billion total, per BNEF.
The 14 pending EV-related SPACs aim to raise a combined $11.8 billion, according to BNEF. That group includes Lucid Motors, which is looking to bring in more than $4 billion, the report said. That could make Lucid the biggest SPAC deal of all—and it also hasn't delivered any cars yet.
That's the reality of the SPAC boom. Many EV startups have shown off impressive-looking cars, but most haven't starting building them yet. They're hoping SPAC deals will help raise the cash needed for the capital-intensive business of car building.
Tesla has likely given many startups (and their investors) false hope regarding the chances of success in the car industry. The last person to establish a new U.S. car company from the ground up that still exists today was Walter P. Chrysler in 1924 (and even he had the remains of Maxwell-Chalmers as a foundation).
Charging-infrastructure companies have largely missed out on the SPAC boom, BNEF noted, although that appears to be changing. ChargePoint and EVgo have joined the list of SPACs, with charging-equipment manufacturer Wallbox among the pending deals.
One notable name missing from this list is Rivian, which has so far shunned SPACs, although rumors have swirled about the company also using this tool as it expands. It might also be the only EV startup to have actually delivered mass-produced vehicles by the time its stock is traded. Deliveries of the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck and Rivian R1S electric SUV are expected to start this summer.