Electric vehicle startup Fisker Inc, which wants to launch an all-electric SUV called the Fisker Ocean, is going public – another in a line of EV-only car makers that will form a second wave of electric car brands to rival Tesla and take legacy car makers to task.
The deal, which will take the form of a reverse merger with “blank-check” company Spartan Energy Acquisition backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, would see Fisker listed on the New York Stock Exchange valued at $US2.9 billion ($A4.14 billion).
More than $US1 billion of gross proceeds will go to Fisker as part of the deal, to see the company’s first electric vehicle go to market in 2022.
The deal was announced on Twitter by the company’s CEO and Danish auto designer, Henrik Fisker, who said he is “excited about our plans to become a global leader in the #EV space, starting with the 2022 Fisker Ocean.”
The announcement follows news of a $US50 million Series C financing round that The Driven reported on Friday, headed by American billionaire investor Louis M. Bacon’s private investment firm Moore Strategic Ventures, LLC, which will hold a portion of $US500 million in common stock along with AllianceBernstein, with funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and Federated Hermes Kaufmann.
“Today, the realisation of the world’s first digital car company took another major step forward, advancing our mission to commercialize the world’s most emotional and sustainable vehicles, while upholding our vision of a clean future for all,” Fisker said in a statement.
The news of the deal is well timed: with the globe perched on the edge of a post-Covid era fuelled by renewable energy and clean electric transport. In such an era, it will be startups like Fisker Inc that fill the gap between EV juggernaut Tesla and the grindingly slow electrification of US auto giants like General Motors and Ford.
Against the backdrop of Tesla’s latest stock surge to more than $US1500, which today has it valued at $US281 billion by market cap, Fisker looks to step into the arena with other publicly listed EV startups, such as hydrogen vehicle startup Nikola, which also undertook a reverse merger with VectoIQ, and the stocks of which rallied to eclipse Ford after it announced it would open its order books for the fuel cell “Badger” ute (pickup) in June.
Nikola is today valued at $US19.1 billion, and is joined by the likes of Nio ($US16.69 billion value by market cap), and Workhorse ($US1.17 billion value).
Michigan-based Rivian is not publicly listed but has secured more than $US5 billion in investments including most recently a $US2.5 billion ($A3.6 billion) led by second-time investor Amazon as well as BlackRock, Soros Fund Management, Coatue, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Baron Capital Group.
Spartan Energy’s stock soared from $US10.90 last Wednesday to $US16.70 on Friday. Although some of these gains have been lost, the real value of Fisker will lie in the success of its promised Ocean SUV.
As opposed to Tesla’s minimalist and futuristic stable of all-electric cars, the Ocean will carry more familiar SUV stylings but with a definite sustainable and Californian flavour including a solar-paneled roof that promises 1,000 miles (1,600km) of free driving a year, and a “vegan” interior.
Originally slated for market by 2021, it will be a “premium yet affordable” electric option priced from $US37,500 ($A53,572) that Fisker himself has previously said would become available in Australia, although not when that might be. Fisker says the Ocean will also be available in a “flexible lease” arrangement that would include 30,000 miles (48,000km) a year, rather more than standard leasing arrangements.
From a historical perspective, there may be some risk in betting on the Fisker name. Henrik Fisker’s first private car company, Fisker Automotive, went bust in 2013 after its (perhaps premature) luxury plug-in hybrid Fisker Karma failed to gain enough traction to prove financially viable.
Although the company was acquired by Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang Group in 2014 and rebranded Karma Automotive, Fisker retained some brand rights allowing him to found Fisker Inc.
Apollo clearly does not see it this way, however.
“Henrik has an unparalleled and world-renowned design track record and is supported by an expert management team with storied careers in the automotive industry,” said Geoffrey Strong, chairman and chief executive officer of Spartan and senior partner, co-head of infrastructure and natural resources at Apollo in a statement.
“The right team, combined with deep financial resources provided by this transaction, further position the company to succeed in a rapidly growing industry,” said Strong.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.
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