Shares of Electric Last Mile Systems (NASDAQ: ELMS) jumped as much as 10% in early morning trading on Monday after the electric vehicle maker made its public trading debut following its merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Forum Merger III Corp.
The stock, which opened at $11.10 per share, was still up about 10% in early afternoon trading. Forum Merger’s stock, which ELMSs assumed, had closed Friday at $10.19 per share.
Jim Taylor, the former General Motors (NYSE: GM) executive and co-founder and CEO of ELMS, was upbeat throughout the morning, making a number of television appearances on the firm’s big day. Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Taylor said ELMS has received 45,000 preorders for its Urban Delivery Class 1 van at a list price of $32,500. A $7,500 available tax credit reduces the price to $25,000, he said.
“[That makes] it exactly the same price as the comparable gas vehicle today. But the actual running costs of that vehicle are about 30% less, so it’s a good business proposition for people that are using vehicles in that segment,” he said.
In an interview with Modern Shipper later in the day, Taylor said the day brought both “elation and relief.”
“It’s a milestone that we looked out toward from when we started this SPAC business,” he said. “The real game has just started, but it’s critical for us to achieve the funding to execute the business plan.”
Taylor declined to say how much ELMS is receiving from the public offering, but confirmed the company received $155 million from the PIPE (private investment in public equity funding usually derived from institutional or accredited investors). He said the numbers will be crunched in the next few days and ELMS needs to file an 8-K with the results within four business days.
“The net proceeds that we received were more than adequate to fund the business plan,” he did say, telling Modern Shipper that included $160 million to fund the development and go-to-market strategy. “That plan takes us well into next year, so if we do any fundraising, it would be for growth or acquisitions not in the business plan.”
While being a public company can slow down processes for some, Taylor doesn’t expect that to be the case for ELMS. The company is still targeting a Q3 assembly start and Q4 delivery of vehicles, even though the SPAC was delayed from the initial Q1 launch.
ELMS is not projecting large volumes in the space, despite being among the first to enter production with a Class 1 electric van. Taylor said projections show ELMs garnering “less than 5% or 6% market share achieved in the out years.”
But because ELMS is building its vehicles based on a Chinese design and adapting it for the North American market, Taylor said its costs are much lower than competitors like Rivian.
The batteries and power system will come from China but the skateboard chassis will be sourced in the U.S. This approach helps ELMS avoid costs to retrofit the chassis for electric motors. Unlike competitive vehicles, ELMS’ products are purpose-built for commercial use, Taylor noted. Its Urban Delivery van features a 42-kilowatt battery and between 170 and 180 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Taylor said the Class 1 van is undergoing regulatory testing and will continue in that process for the next two months or so.
“ELMS is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the growing, $1 trillion North American e-commerce market and redefine the last mile of delivery with more efficient and lower-cost EV solutions,” David Boris, former co-CEO and CFO of Forum III, said in a statement. “As a public company, ELMS will have the platform and access to capital to accelerate its growth and innovation and become a critical partner to commercial fleet operators around the country. I look forward to seeing the ELMS team build an industry-leading electric vehicle company and transform last-mile delivery and mobility networks.”
Boris has joined the ELMS board of directors as director.
The pure-play electric vehicle maker will show a prototype of its Class 3 vehicle, what it is calling the Urban Utility, at the upcoming Route Consultant Contractor Expo, a FedEx (NYSE: FDX) contractor event. The vehicle will join its smaller Class 1 sibling, the Urban Delivery cargo van, which will also be on display. The larger Class 3 vehicle is being prepared for a second-half 2022 launch, the company said.
ELMS will be joined at the Route Consultant Contractor Expo by its strategic distribution partner, Randy Marion Automotive Group. Both vehicles will be available for test drive, ELMS said.
“We have seen strong early indications of interest in our Urban Utility from fleets seeking more efficient and sustainable last-mile delivery solutions,” Taylor said in a statement last week. “With our reveal, we are excited to show our full suite of last-mile e-mobility solutions to some of the country’s largest delivery providers.”
The Urban Utility will have an estimated range of 250 miles unloaded with an expected payload of 5,700 pounds. A variety of cargo box lengths will be available. The Urban Utility is also expected to come with a suite of connectivity solutions that would allow fleet operators full visibility of their vehicles in near real time, as well as the ability to turn each vehicle into a Wi-Fi hot spot. In addition, over-the-air software update capabilities will reduce vehicle downtime.
ELMS also plans to offer up-fitting solutions to customize the Urban Utility to fleets’ individual end-use cases.