Why Spartan Energy Acquisition's Stock Fell on Friday

What happened

Shares of Spartan Energy Acquisition (NYSE: SPAQ), a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that has agreed to merge with electric-vehicle start-up Fisker, were trading lower on Friday after Fisker reported a potential snag in its plan to put its electric SUV into production.

As of 2:45 p.m. EDT on Friday, Spartan's shares were down about 12.2% from Thursday's closing price.

So what

Los Angeles-based Fisker has developed an upscale electric SUV called the Ocean, which it aims to have in production by the end of 2022, using technology from a major automaker. Spartan and Fisker have agreed to merge in a deal similar to one that took electric-truck start-up Nikola (NASDAQ: NKLA) public in June; the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020. 

Auto investors have expected Fisker's big automaker partner to be Volkswagen (OTC: VWAGY), which has developed a highly flexible electric-vehicle architecture (called MEB) that it has offered to license. Indeed, Fisker has been negotiating with VW to use the MEB architecture for the Ocean.

A silver Fisker Ocean, a sleek, electric SUV.

Fisker plans to have its electric Ocean SUV in production by the end of 2022. But its plans may have hit a snag. Image source: Fisker, Inc.

Fisker had expected to have a deal with VW signed by the end of July. But in a roadshow script filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday morning, it said that it hasn't yet reached a deal, and that discussions with VW won't resume until September.

(Details of the roadshow script were first reported by The Verge.) 

The implication is that Fisker's production plan, or at least its production schedule, may now be at risk. That's why Spartan's stock was down on Friday. 

Now what

After Spartan's stock began to fall, Fisker founder and CEO Henrik Fisker took to Twitter to say that his company is talking with several major automakers (OEMs in industry jargon), not just Volkswagen: 

I'm not sure that tweet had the effect that Fisker wanted. If anything, things seem even more uncertain than they did on Friday morning. I expect that investors will get a further update when Spartan reports its second-quarter results, likely later in August. 

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