Electric-vehicle startup Fisker Inc. shares jump 13% on stock market debut

October 30, 2020, 4:53 PM UTC

Correction 11.2.20: This piece previously cited trading data for warrants for Fisker, Inc. stock. It has been updated to reflect data for the stock itself. We regret the error.

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 just below $9 per share and moved as high as $10.66, a gain of 19%, before closing at $10.14 per share, up nearly 13%.

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 Inc. has partnered with the reputable contract manufacturer Magna Steyr for the vehicle, which is projected to retail for $37,499, toward the lower end of the price range of EVs available today. Fisker Inc. 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 run-up 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-adjacent 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 mid-market is one of the most notable shifts: The Fisker Karma was marketed as a high-end sports car, and prices 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.