Electric vehicle startup Fisker Inc. shares jump 7% on stock market debut

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Fisker, Inc., an electric vehicle startup that plans to produce an all-electric SUV, has completed the process of going public. The company started trading on the new York Stock Exchange this morning under the ticker symbol FSR.

The newly-public company opened trading at $2.20 per share and moved as high as $2.71, a gain of more than 22%, before retracing to $2.35 by midday, up nearly 7% with the overall market slightly down.

Fisker’s planned first product is the Ocean, an electric SUV expected to begin production in late 2022. That means stockholders will have to wait quite a while to evaluate the company’s real-world performance. However, Fisker has partnered with the reputable contract manufacturer Magna Steyr for the vehicle, which is projected to retail for $37,499, towards the lower end of the price range of EVs available today. Fisker has also said it already has sufficient funding in place to build the Ocean, and pursued a public listing as “another way to de-risk.”

Despite a mildly checkered history, Fisker Inc. is among the more compelling of a raft of electric vehicle startups going public or seeking major funding this year. The massive runup in the stock of Tesla, which has risen close to 350% since January, has attracted a seemingly endless flood of public and private investment to EV and EV-adjescent startups with names like Rivian, Hyliion, Canoo, Lordstown Motors, Nio, and so on.

Depending on the perspective, Fisker’s history is either an advantage or a hindrance when lined up against other EV companies. Fisker, Inc. is the second startup from founder Henrik Fisker, a renowned car designer. The first, Fisker Automotive, debuted the gasoline-electric hybrid Fisker Karma in 2012, before the Tesla Model S came to market.

The Karma was a failure, and Fisker Automotive ultimately folded, but Fisker, Inc. has said it is learning from the mistakes of its previous incarnation. Targeting the midmarket is one of the most notable shifts: the Fisker Karma was marketed as a high-end sports car, and priced started at $102,000.

Fisker Inc., like many of the new EV entrants, entered public markets through a process known as an SPAC, or Special Purpose Acquisition Company, rather than a more traditional IPO. In the SPAC process, a shell company goes public first with the intention of purchasing a private company later. Fisker Inc. went public by combining with Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp., which has been listed on the NYSE under SPAQ.

The SPAC process has become popular in part because it is faster than a traditional IPO. It is also arguably less transparent and rigorous, which appears to have contributed to at least one major flameout: hydrogen-electric truckmaker Nikola’s stock has dropped as much as 77% from June highs after revelations of repeated misrepresentations by the company.

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