Lordstown Motors hasn’t delivered a single vehicle yet, but it is now a publicly-traded company.
The electric-truck firm began trading on the NASDAQ Monday, under the ticker symbol “RIDE.”
Lordstown went public by merging with DiamondPeak Holdings, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). These are essentially shell companies created specifically to merge with private companies looking to go public, as a way to expedite the process.
SPAC mergers have become fashionable among automotive startups, with Nikola, Fisker, and Canoo, as well as solid-state battery firm QuantumScape, using them to go public in recent months. Like Lordstown, these companies initiated a path to be publicly traded before delivering any products.
Lordstown was formed to rehabilitate a closed General Motors factory in its namesake Ohio town to build electric vehicles. The company’s first product is the Endurance electric pickup truck, aimed at fleet buyers. CEO Steve Burns previously told Green Car Reports that an SUV is also under consideration.
After GM idled the factory in March 2019, Lordstown was able to secure financing to buy it with help from the Trump Administration, despite the president’s criticism of GM’s new electric direction.
In August, GM announced a $75 million investment in Lordstown, which could go on to produce vehicles to rival the Detroit giant’s planned electric trucks. GM is also working with LG Chem on a battery plant near the Lordstown factory, which last assembled Chevrolet Cruze compacts.
Tesla, the trailblazer for the current crop of EV startups, went public in 2010. That was two years before the start of Model S deliveries, but after Tesla had been delivering its Roadster for several years.
While going public is often viewed as necessary for funding expensive vehicle-development projects, and can give shareholders a big payday, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Tesla.
CEO Elon Musk, long taunted by short-sellers, announced intentions to take Tesla private in 2018. That plan would have included money from Saudi Arabia and Volkswagen but, when it turned out Musk wasn’t serious, it led to a hefty SEC fine.
Several other EV makers that don’t yet sell vehicles in the United States are publicly traded here. Nio and Xpeng are two examples; but both of those companies do sell vehicles in China.
Tesla’s two startup rivals that are perhaps closest to becoming viable competitors to Tesla—Rivian and Lucid—are not publicly traded, but Lucid is reportedly exploring that avenue.