Another Electric Truck Maker Is Going Public Through an Acquisition

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A concept vehicle by Via Motors.


Courtesy of Via

Electric vehicles for commercial uses are ready for prime time. One sign is the roughly $80 billion valuation that electric truck maker Rivian is looking for when it goes public soon. Another is simply the rash of electric truck and van startups vying for a piece of the EV pie.

And another electric trucking company popped up on investors’ radar Monday. Via Motors agreed to be bought by EV conglomerate

Ideanomics

(ticker: IDEX) in a $600 million all-stock deal that still has to be approved by shareholders.

The deal has shares of

Ideanomics

(ticker: IDEX) on the move. The stock was up 4.4% in afternoon trading. The

S&P 500

was up 0.6%. The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was flat.

Via Motors is focused on producing class 2 to class 5 electric trucks and vans. A class 2 can be a full-size pickup or delivery van; a class 5 can be a large moving truck. For comparison’s sake, a car is a class 1 and a semi is a class 8.

Other EV startups working on commercial vehicles include Rivian,

Workhorse

(WKHS),

Lordstown Motors

(RIDE),

Arrival

(ARVL), and

Canoo

(GOEV).

At $600 million, the Via-Ideanomics deal is one of the less expensive commercial EV plays. Lordstown’s market capitalization is about $1 billion.

Canoo

comes in with a $1.7 billion market cap. Arrival’s market cap stands far above, about $7.2 billion.

One reason that Via is less expensive is because it isn’t ready to ship trucks yet; production is planned for 2023.

But Via has an ace up its sleeve: CEO Bob Purcell, who ran

General Motors

(GM) electric vehicle business in the 1990s. He is the father of the legendary GM EV1, the first mass-produced EV and the first one that GM designed to be a plug-in from the beginning.

“We were the car that started it all …I was very proud of my group,” Purcell told Barron’s after Via and Ideanomics announced their deal. “We invented that technology…things like torque vector control for motors, battery management systems…none of that existed before the EV1.”

Now, Purcell has turned to commercial electric vehicles. Via could have pursued a traditional initial public offering or a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Instead, the start-up went with Ideanomics, which focuses on EV charging, storage, and EV production.

“We have all the [electrical] grid augmentation, charging capabilities …we have component and subcomponent manufacturers,” Ideanomics CEO Alf Poor explained to Barron’s. “This is one of the key pieces to bring in to be close to those major commercial fleet operators like the

Amazon

‘s [and]

Walmart

‘s.”

Ideanomics shareholders still have to sign off on the deal. But based on the stock market’s reaction on Monday, the deal should be received with enthusiasm.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com

Roy Walsh

Roy Walsh

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