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The Feds Are Eyeballing Lucid's $24 Billion 'Peak SPAC' Deal

The SEC hits Lucid with a subpoena just months after its big deal made it a Wall Street darling

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Photo: Adam Ismail

I guess if you’re following in the footsteps of Tesla, you might as well get an SEC investigation, too, right? All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 6, 2021.

1st Gear: Shares Tumble As SEC Investigates

Lucid shares plunged on Monday, which seems silly. After all, Lucid is meant to be the next Tesla (or something close to it) and Elon is always beefing with the SEC. Seems like everything is in order?


In any case, here’s the news from Reuters:

Lucid Group Inc. has received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seeking documents related to an investigation on its blank-check deal, the luxury EV maker said on Monday.

“The investigation appears to concern the business combination between the Company (Churchill Capital Corp. IV) and Atieva Inc and certain projections and statements,” the company said in a regulatory filing.

Shares in Lucid fell 12 percent in premarket trading Monday.

The deal in question really was a historic moment in obscuring information as a company goes public. Lucid wasn’t quite as brazen as Nikola in its SPAC deal, but it was deemed “peak SPAC” by Bloomberg as recently as July.


2nd Gear: Car Companies Are Raking In Profits While Their Suppliers Suffer

Over the course of the ongoing pandemic, supply issues and labor crises put the squeeze on car production and sales. Car companies themselves have largely been able to switch to selling just models with as high a profit margin as possible. As such, profits for car companies have been almost troublingly strong.

The companies that supply those carmakers with their parts, however, have not been so blessed, as the Wall Street Journal details:

The biggest rub, however, is his company is losing out on the auto industry’s frothy pricing, [Peter Anthony, the head of a Chicago-area auto supplier UGN Inc.] added. With tight inventories, car buyers are paying record sums for new vehicles, and that has led both auto makers and dealerships to post healthy earnings this year, despite disruptions caused by the computer-chip shortage.

Mr. Anthony’s firm is one link in a global supply chain that is buckling under the pressure of labor shortages, rising freight and commodity costs, and manufacturing disruptions.

Suppliers typically do business with the car companies under fixed contracts that set prices for the length of a vehicle program—which can run longer than five years—and are difficult to renegotiate, executives and industry attorneys say. Auto-parts makers also rely on a steady flow of work orders and efficient, just-in-time supply chains to contain costs.

But delivery delays and canceled orders resulting from the chip shortage, combined with soaring costs across their businesses, are putting even more pressure on already-thin profit margins, executives and industry analysts say.


Basically, auto companies are profiting on the backs of inflexible deals with their parts suppliers. This doesn’t feel right.

3rd Gear: Europe’s Automotive Suppliers Claim They’ll Lose A Quarter-Million Jobs Going To EVs

Speaking of automotive suppliers, a major organization of European suppliers claims that they expect to lose half a million jobs in the switch to electric vehicles and gain only half of them back in new roles. From the Financial Times:

More than two-thirds of those 501,000 roles would disappear in the five years before that date, according to a poll of almost 100 companies for the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, Clepa, making it difficult to mitigate the “social and economic impacts” caused by mass unemployment.

But the survey by PwC also found that 226,000 new jobs would be created in the manufacturing of electric parts, reducing the net number of job losses to approximately 275,000 over the next couple of decades. 


I remain largely skeptical of these drastic predictions, but I do agree with the sentiment of these claims: The switch to a green economy should come with a jobs guarantee.

4th Gear: GM Is Increasing Its Presence In Washington DC

If you have been noticing a very cozy relationship with GM and the Biden administration, with Biden personally lauding CEO Mary Barra and ripping a Hummer around in front of the press, then you might not be surprised at this Automotive News report about GM beefing up its DC lobbying presence:

As General Motors commits to investing billions of dollars in electric and autonomous vehicle development, its reputation in the nation’s capital will be essential for guiding policies that prop up the transformation.Once a company that was harshly criticized by U.S. lawmakers for an announcement in late 2018 that it would trim its salaried work force and halt production at several plants as part of a restructuring, the Detroit automaker is now strengthening its presence in Washington as it goes all in on EVs.

As part of the strategy, GM has been pursuing a deliberate effort to bulk up its D.C. office, most recently with the hiring of former NHTSA chief David Strickland in September and public policy veteran Omar Vargas in July. The election of CEO Mary Barra for a two-year term as chair of the Business Roundtable, a Washington group that represents the CEOs of some of America’s largest companies, also amps up GM’s D.C. clout.


AN notes that this is not idle work, and it comes against a backdrop of Washington being very pissed at GM in general:

Dingell — a Michigan Democrat who spent more than 30 years at GM, where she was president of its philanthropic arm and a senior executive for public affairs — criticized the restructuring at the time. In a 2018 CNN interview, she referred to the automaker as “the most thoroughly disliked company in Washington, D.C., right now.”



5th Gear: Ford, VW, MG Pooling CO2 In UK

Ford and VW’s ties in Europe are deepening in the eco-car front, as the two companies are now pooling their CO2 figures with MG in the UK, as Matthias Schmidt reports:

According to the latest exclusive Schmidt Automotive Research and United Kingdom government data, Ford has joined Volkswagen Group’s UK-only CO2 pool for 2021. The United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU27 plus Norway and Iceland CO2 fleet average legislation that requires passenger car manufacturers to meet a defined mass-adjusted fleet average CO2 target of 95g/km in the old NEDC drive cycle or closer to 120g/km in the WLTP cycle up to 2025, which is being adopted in the UK-only, for the first year.


Ford and VW have not pooled their CO2 numbers for all of Europe, but who knows if that is to come. All we can say is the pressure is on over there to comply with strict emissions standards.

Reverse: A Powerful Moment In Water Polo History

From the NYT in 1956, a symbolic moment in the Cold War just after the uprising was crushed.

MELBOURNE, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 6.(up)—Fists flew and blood flowed in the tension-packed Olympic pool today as a crowd of 5,500 cheered undefeated Hungary to a 4-0 victory over the lustily booed Russian team in the final round of water polo.


Neutral: Have You Invested In An EV Startup?

The other day I ran into a dude who claimed to have made $100,000 investing in Fisker. This was a day after the Ocean reveal. I advised him to sell, pronto.