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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.

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