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Tesla challengers use SPACs to play catch-up

Assif Shameen
Assif Shameen10/2/2020 7:0 AM GMT+08  • 9 min read
Tesla challengers use SPACs to play catch-up
EV start-ups have yet to produce a single vehicle but they have already raised, or are raising, billions of dollars. What's up?
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What do Canoo, Fisker Inc, Rivian Automotive Inc, Arrival, Lucid Motors Inc, Karma Automotive, Hyliion Inc, Lordstown Motors Corp and Nikola Corp have in common? They are all electric vehicle, or EV, start-ups that have yet to produce a single vehicle but have already raised, or are in the process of raising, billions of dollars through reverse mergers with blank-cheque special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs. Throw in upcoming SPAC reverse mergers like EV battery maker Quantum Scape and EV charging network operator ChargePoint Inc. and you get plenty of pure-play EV firms whetting the appetites of investors who want to hitch a ride on the next Tesla Inc.

Investors’ infatuation with the EV pioneer Tesla is the stuff of legend. Co-founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, Tesla took off when the duo pitched their idea to Elon Musk, a serial entrepreneur who agreed to invest US$6.5 million in its Series A round. The rest is history. Defying his critics and brushes with bankruptcy, Musk went about making Tesla a player that others must catch up with.

Tesla listed in late June 2010 at US$17 a share for a valuation of US$1.7 billion. If you had held on to the stock from its IPO day 10 years ago to end-August when it peaked, you would have gained a whopping 12,400%! A US$10,000 investment in Tesla 10 years ago would be worth over US$1.34 million ($1.84 million) at the peak three weeks ago. A recent 16% pullback in the stock has not changed the Tesla story.

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