In the summer of 2020, Taylor and his co-founder Jason Luo, a longtime automotive executive who briefly ran Ford China, began trying to raise money for ELMS. It was during the rise of the SPAC fever. In the six months preceding the founding of ELMS, startups EV Nikola Corp., Fisker Inc., Lordstown Motors Corp. and Canoo have all announced their intention to enter public markets through mergers with specialist acquisition companies.
PSPC intrigued Taylor. Since leaving GM in 2010, he had worked at two electric vehicle companies – now Workhorse Group and Karma Automotive – and had seen enough of the traditional fundraising process to know he would be happy to. ‘accelerate. “It allows you to get the money a lot faster,” he says, “and it arrives on a loaded train.”
In the fall of 2020, Taylor and Luo began discussing a merger with a SPAC called Forum Merger III, which had raised $ 250 million. At the end of October, they were ready to approach private equity firms, hedge funds and investment banks to add to this pool of funds through a so-called private investment in public stocks, or PIPE. In December, Forum announced the proposed merger, which valued ELMS at $ 1.4 billion. With $ 155 million in PIPE funds, the deal was expected to generate nearly $ 380 million in gross revenue for ELMS.
The companies hoped to close the deal in the first three months of 2021, but that was delayed after the Securities and Exchange Commission began to take a closer look at PSPCs. The EV companies that predated ELMS in public markets had illustrated the downsides of giving startups one big bucket of money at a time: few live up to their hype.
After filing new documents to meet the new SEC guidelines, ELMS finalized the merger and began trading on the Nasdaq in late June. As soon as the funds were in the bank, Taylor made a $ 30 million down payment on the $ 145 million purchase of the Mishawaka plant and began equipping it to assemble electric vans.