EV startup Arrival goes public at $5.4 billion valuation in SPAC deal

November 18, 2020, 3:25 PM UTC

Arrival, a startup developing electric trucks and buses, announced today that it will go public via a trendy process known as a SPAC, a special purpose acquisition company. The deal values the startup, which has a deal in place to produce electric vans for UPS, at $5.4 billion dollars.

Lead investors in the deal, executed via a merger with a dedicated entity called CIIG Merger Corp. (CIIC), include Fidelity Management & Research, Wellington Management, and funds managed by BlackRock. Prior investments have come from Hyundai-Kia. The newly combined company will trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker ARVL. Arrival says the deal will leave it with about $660 million in cash to fund growth.

Arrival, founded in January 2015, is focused on producing electric vans and buses for commercial and municipal buyers. Its banner deal is with UPS, which has ordered 10,000 electric delivery vans, which will go into production in 2022. UPS has an option to purchase an additional 10,000 vans, and, along with other contracts, Arrival says it has deals in place worth as much as $1.2 billion.

Unlike flashy consumer EV makers such as Tesla or Fisker, Arrival is primarily focused on producing low-cost vehicles. It says its vans and buses will be “competitive in price with fossil fuel alternatives and substantially lower than comparable EVs.”

Mike Ableson, head of Arrival’s automotive operations and formerly vice president at General Motors, told Fortune that’s possible largely because of Arrival’s approach to manufacturing. The company plans to produce its vehicles in what it calls “micro-factories,” using lightweight robotics and automation to stand up production facilities that fit into existing warehouses or similar spaces, reducing capital expenditures.

Ableson says the factory format is possible because electric vehicles are simpler to assemble than traditional internal-combustion vehicles, making automation easier. Another key innovation is Arrival’s unique color-infused composite body paneling, which eliminates the need for a traditional, large-footprint paint system.

According to Ableson, Arrival has also developed battery modules and other electrical components in house, which should improve profit margins compared with buying those from suppliers. Like some other EV startups, Arrival uses a modular “skateboard” format that allows various bodies to be designed for use with the same undercarriage and drivetrain.

In addition to cost reductions, Ableson says the micro-factory approach makes Arrival more agile. “We don’t have to forecast demand three or four years in the future…We can roll out factories as we see demand develop,” including in response to specific contracts.

The first of Arrival’s micro-factories is a van production facility coming to the U.K. in 2021. Arrival’s first U.S. micro-factory will be in South Carolina, and Ableson says bus prototypes should be on the road in the U.S. this year.