This Self Driving Car Stock Will Go Public at the Perfect Time

Electric vehicle (EV) stocks have been hot the last couple years as governments and corporations around the world push for greener technology.

But a related trend will transform cars in a much bigger way. One self-driving car stock could take autonomous vehicles to the next level, and it's going public very soon.

There might be no better time for Aurora stock to go public. The self-driving car maker plans to merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Reinvent Technology Partners (NYSE: RTP).

After the $2.5 billion deal passes, Reinvent Technology Partners will adopt the Aurora stock ticker (AUR) on the NASDAQ. The company expects to be valued at $11 billion when all is said and done.

The EV industry hasn't been all sunshine and roses. Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) and Lordstown Motors Corp. (NASDAQ: RIDE) both came under fire for fraudulent activity in the last couple years.

Nikola boasted a nonexistent product, and Lordstown allegedly reported 100,000 fake preorders, now under SEC investigation.

Meanwhile, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is down 26% and Nio Inc. (NYSE: NIO) is down 25%.

All of these companies have tested the public market, succeeding or failing in different ways. This has allowed Aurora time to sit back, learn, and strike at the right moment.

Here's why that moment is now...

What Is Aurora?

Aurora was started in 2017 by leaders from Google, Tesla, and Uber. Their names are Christ Urmson, Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell, respectively. Each led a team to develop and fine-tune their companies' self-driving technology.

So, they have a killer combo starting out.

Their company makes the hardware and software behind autonomous vehicles. Their technology suite is called Aurora Driver. Amid a heated battle between lidar and camera technology for use in EVs, Aurora uses a combination of lidar, cameras and maps.

The company began working with autonomous trucks in 2018. This was smart given that transportation and logistics vehicles have begun to form the foundation of the EV industry.

Aurora has so far tested its technology with Volvo cars and trucks, Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) and PACCAR. The company is partnered with Uber, which supplied the Aurora self-driving unit. Today, Aurora pulls from Uber for talent and business advisory.

Aurora is also in no hurry to deliver its product. Counterintuitively, this could be a good sign in an industry so far characterized by rushing and flopping. Aurora expects to have a commercial self-driving truck on the road in 2023.

By 2024, it wants a passenger vehicle on the road suitable for ride-hailing.

Is Aurora Profitable?

Aurora is currently unprofitable, and this comes as no surprise. The technology it wants to produce requires significant research, development, and material costs.

The company lost $94 million in 2019 and then $214 million in 2020. This is where the SPAC merger comes in really handy. Aurora needs all the cash it can get.

Aurora has hinted at potential profitability by 2027, if all goes well. That's after the company unveils both its truck and passenger vehicle.

Here, you have to consider that EVs have been notoriously over-optimistic in the last year. You might say it comes with the territory of designing futuristic products.

Aurora admits this in its reports, saying the vehicles might have "more limited performance" or take "longer to complete" than initially estimated.

Of course, that will affect the stock price...

Is Aurora Stock a Buy After the "IPO"?

Jumping into self-driving trucks before ride-hailing was the right idea. All of Uber, Lyft, and Waymo have stalled their self-driving attempts. For whatever reason - whether the technology isn't ready or the market isn't ready to adopt, Aurora should go with what works.

The other advantage of trucks is that setting them up for self-driving is not as tedious as with passenger vehicles. These only need drive on highways rather than navigating a city grid full of pedestrians.

Aurora has yet to meet its goal of a level-4 self-driving vehicle. But if it can, it will be among a select few self-driving vehicles where the driver barely does any of the work. And it will do so with the Volvo and PACCAR truck lines, earning a great share of the highway-driving market.

Still, whether the SPAC merger with Reinvent will be enough to sustain the company's R&D efforts in the long run is hard to say.

But if this company can stand out by doing something as simple as having a product and releasing it at the promised date without inflating the preorder numbers, it could reward investors big time.

You can pick up shares of Reinvent Technology, RTP, for just $9.96 today. Stay tuned for more on when those shares will switch over to AUR.

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About the Author

Mike Stenger, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, graduated from the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University. He has combined his degree in Economics with an interest in emerging technologies by finding where tech and finance overlap. Today, he studies the cybersecurity sector, AI, streaming, and the Cloud.

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