What happened

Investors in the world of battery-powered automotive stocks might have gotten a case of whiplash in Monday trading. Shares of would-be electric-truck maker Nikola (NKLA 8.36%) jumped more than 5% in early trading and ended up closing down less than 1%. Shares of Canadian electric-car maker Electrameccanica Vehicles (SOLO -3.55%) closed down 18% and Florida-based electric-car-charging company Blink Charging (BLNK -6.02%) closed down 15%.

A green thumb pointing up and a red thumb pointing down

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

In the stock market, there's an advantage to being a first mover. Tesla, the company that popularized electric cars in the minds of the car-buying public, is an excellent example of a company that has become so well identified with its signature product that everyone who tries to make a similar product looks kind of like an also-ran.

There's even an advantage to being a second mover, as investors in Nikola can attest. By attempting to follow in Tesla's footsteps, promising fleets of battery-powered trucks in the future, Nikola has succeeded in delivering investors amazing stock returns in the present. Convincing investors that it will become "the next Tesla," Nikola has quickly claimed for itself an astounding $20 billion market cap despite having no revenue to speak of.

Now what

Electrameccanica Vehicles and Blink Charging have not been so fortunate. Like Nikola at $0.4 million in annual revenue, both Electrameccanica ($0.6 million) and Blink ($3.5 million) are essentially "story stocks" that have yet to deliver on actual sales (much less profits) and therefore sell at insanely high price-to-sales ratios.

Also like Nikola, both have experienced strong share price run-ups in recent weeks. Electrameccanica shares have roughly doubled over the past month, while Blink shares are up 170%. Unlike it, however, they're both still selling for mere fractions of Nikola's valuation -- barely $250 million for Electrameccanica and $180 million for Blink.

Worse, investors appear to already be having second thoughts about Electrameccanica and Blink, their lack of profits, and their (almost ) entire lack of revenues. After strong run-ups, both of these stocks have sold off pretty steadily over the past four trading days. That hasn't happened to Nikola stock thus far, but if it doesn't start delivering on some of its promised products soon, it may happen yet.