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Commentary

A Blank Check for Electric Vehicles?

What's electrifying the romance between SPACs and cleantech?

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James Thorne is a Seattle-based senior financial writer covering tech at PitchBook. He previously reported for GeekWire, Reuters, CNBC and Source Media. A native of Colorado, James graduated from Boston College and received his master’s degree in business journalism from New York University.

If the lofty dreams of renewable-energy-powered, self-driving cars are realized, they may have the 2020 special purpose acquisition company bonanza to thank for it. So far this year, a dozen U.S. companies that make electric vehicles, batteries, and autonomous driving technology have announced SPAC deals that could bring in more than $6.5 billion. Meanwhile, U.S. venture capital investment in mobility tech--a category that includes EV, ride-hailing, and light detection and ranging companies--has totaled $10.5 billion across 150 deals so far this year, according to Morningstar PitchBook data.

The blank-check activity is being powered by public investor demand, the capital needs of these R&D-heavy startups, and broad tailwinds for electrification. Arguably, there has never been a better time for makers of unprofitable and often unproven technologies to go public.

Morningstar Canada does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.