Wall Street’s obsession with electric vehicles is touching off a new round of public listings and prompting clean-tech companies to forge partnerships with powerful allies.
Proterra Inc., which makes electric buses and battery systems, on Tuesday said it will go public through special purpose acquisition companyArcLight Clean Transition Corp., the latest in a wave of deals between automakers and SPACs. It comes asLucid Motors Inc. has beenin talks to go public via one of Michael Klein’s blank-check companies, according to people familiar with the matter.
Meanwhile,Plug Power Inc. andRenault SA are forming a venture to build hydrogen-fueled delivery vans.
EV company valuations are soaring as investors hunt for the next Tesla Inc., which saw its market capitalization reach a record $834 billion last week, topping Facebook Inc. The mania has even lifted companies withno profits to speak of — such as Nikola Corp. and Lordstown Motors Corp. That’s encouraged automakers in need of capital to go public via SPACs, while others expand their market share through strategic partnerships.
“It’s an extremely hot sector — it’s red hot,” said Pavel Molchanov, energy analyst at Raymond James & Associates. “Battery tech is becoming more and more efficient, charging infrastructure continues to develop and proliferate and there are many more vehicle models for buyers to choose from.”
Read More:EV-Tech Company Proterra to Go Public Through ArcLight SPAC
It’s not just Tesla that’s inspired investors to pile into clean vehicles. Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential election is promising to be a boon for the emission-free transport industry. During the campaign last summer, then-candidate Biden indicated stronger government support for plug-in vehicles as part of a broader push to fight global warming.
“There’s this global interest in clean transport,” said Katie Bays, managing director of the policy consultancy FiscalNote Markets. “Investment in clean transportation companies is not a fringe issue. It’s very mainstream.”
The Lucidtransaction could be valued at up to $15 billion, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because it’s private. The EV manufacturer, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, targets the luxury end of the market and its chief executive officer, Peter Rawlinson, was previously Tesla’s chief engineer on the Model S sedan.
Proterra, meanwhile, is the most recent EV-maker to go public through a SPAC merger as investor appetite for EVs heats up. Blank-check companies such as ArcLight Clean have emerged as a preferred way to raise capital, with SPACs raising arecord $79.2 billion in 2020, to become one of the biggest segments of initial public offerings during the year. Nikola Corp. and Fisker Inc. also went public via SPAC deals last year.
ArcLight Clean’s shares surged by as much as 94%.
“This is really an inflection point of the industry,” Jack Allen, Proterra’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Doing a SPAC allows us to go faster and to be able to really accelerate the investments that are ahead of us in all three of our business segments that are driving revenue today.”
Also See:Renault, Plug Power Form Venture for Hydrogen Delivery Vans
Plug Power’s venture with Renault is the latest blockbuster deal for the Latham, New York-based company that’s spent 20 years struggling to turn a profit as it hunts for a niche for hydrogen fuel cells that produce electricity through an electro-chemical process rather than combustion.
Plug’s shares jumped as much as 21%.
Last week, Plug announced a$1.5 billion investment from South Korea’sSK Group to promote the technology across Asia. When produced with renewable power and used in a fuel cell, hydrogen can supply energy with no greenhouse gas emissions, making it a potentially potent weapon in the fight against climate change.
Plug and Renault will offer both the vehicles and the hydrogen-fueling stations to supply them, according to a statement Tuesday. They aim to start production by early in 2022 at an existing Renault plant in France, building tens of thousands of light-duty commercial vehicles annually by 2030. Financial details were not disclosed.
“We’ve got the vehicles, we’ve got the service, we’ve got the stations — everything you need to be successful,” Plug Chief Executive Officer Andy Marsh said in an interview.
— With assistance by Matthew Martin, Dinesh Nair, Edward Ludlow, and Kiel Porter
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