Stock Market

Back when the Texas winter storm hit, that one event could possibly not have been worse for businesses exposed to the electric vehicle industry. With the grid down, electric transportation dependency became a liability. But now, the narrative may be turning favorable for EV-related companies like TPG Pace Beneficial Finance (NYSE:TPGY). That would be welcome news for TPGY stock, which has been beaten down throughout this year.

Source: Shutterstock

Well, let me back up for a second. As you might guess from its funky name, TPG Pace Beneficial doesn’t have any business of its own. Instead, it’s a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. These blank-check firms have been dominating headlines, becoming the darlings of investors, particularly those new to the game. TPG’s reverse-merger target is EVBox, a Dutch EV charging station provider.

Over the years, EVs have captured the attention of many drivers for their clean emissions and especially their lower “fueling” costs. When the pandemic initially broke out, EVs actually improved their reputation because of their fewer moving parts. This meant that EV drivers didn’t have to perform the frequent maintenance that combustion car drivers must endure, such as oil changes. That right there boosted the underlying narrative of TPGY stock.

Then, the cold snap hit Texas and other regions. Suddenly, with widescale grid failures, those who had fully made the transition to EVs were seemingly left stuck. Not helping matters were politically motivated pundits that lashed out at the green energy movement, of which EVs play a significant role. This dynamic contributed to consumer concerns, most notably those who were on the fence about going electric.

But now, the combustion side has its own crisis to deal with. As you’ve no doubt heard, cybercriminals imposed a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, which deeply affected many southeastern states. Could this be the schadenfreude catalyst for TPGY stock or is this volatile name still a dud?

TPGY Stock Needs Much More to Survive

On one hand, it’s tempting to believe that TPGY stock may have hit a bottom. While the overall trend for this year is extremely negative, shares started to pick up toward the end of last week and further yesterday. With such a huge impact to the fossil fuel industry, green energy advocates can once again gloat that electricity is the way to go.

Further, they can also point to the fact that the Colonial attack is having a widespread impact beyond the southeast. For instance, Reuters reported that Washington, D.C. was running out of gasoline even while Colonial recovers from the breach.

Plus, we’ve heard stories about brawls breaking out because of the long lines at affected gas stations. Naturally, this all adds to the narrative that EVs are the better platform of choice. Should drivers want to charge at home or at their office, they can do so. With combustion cars, you’re entirely dependent on the pump.

Though the immediate headlines do present a somewhat favorable story for TPGY stock, I think that’s the problem: they’re just stories. In terms of the Colonial Pipeline incident convincing people to jump ship from combustion to electric, this tailwind is minimal.

Mainly, while EVs have made substantial progress, they’re still expensive and from some perspectives — think those without a garage — they’re inconvenient. Therefore, even today, EVs represent only a small fraction of automobiles sold, either in the U.S. or in the rest of the world.

Now, TPGY stock has an advantage in that the underlying EVBox business is basically selling tickets to the game, and not betting on individual teams. However, TPGY is also at a disadvantage because it’s an infrastructure play. But with such a small market, this business faces severe risks, hence the downside.

Still a Long Way for EVs To Go

Many who are bullish on TPGY stock will point to Norway as an example of a nation leading the charge to a greener transportation future. I think it’s wonderful what the Norwegians are doing. But I also think it’s unwise to read too much into this narrative.

For instance, Norway offers generous tax-related incentives to buy EVs. It’s to a point where it practically doesn’t make sense for a Norwegian to buy a combustion-based car. So, yes, EVs are soaring over there but that’s because the government is extremely focused on making this a reality. Essentially, they’re subsidizing the EV rollout.

But that’s not the case for all other countries. And that’s reflected in the small percentage of global auto sales that come from plug-in EVs. Likely, investors are recognizing the reality of the electric future and are downgrading TPGY stock accordingly.

On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.