What happened

Shares of several electric-vehicle companies were trading lower on Friday afternoon, as rising numbers of coronavirus infections and disappointing earnings results from key tech bellwethers sent investors heading for the exits.

Here's where things stood as of 2 p.m. EDT for these three companies, relative to their closing prices on Thursday.

  • Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) was down about 8.5%.
  • NIO's (NYSE:NIO) American depositary shares were down about 4.5%.
  • Workhorse Group (NASDAQ:WKHS) was down about 11.2%.

So what

Friday was another rough day for the U.S. markets, as investors looked to sell off higher-volatility assets on growing fears of a coronavirus resurgence.

Tech stocks were hit especially hard in the wake of disappointing earnings reports from Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but there was selling pressure across the market: All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 Index were down as of early afternoon. 

A NIO ES8 electric SUV inside an automated battery-swap station.

NIO's upcoming super-long-range battery pack will be compatible with its automated battery-swap stations, the company's CEO said on Friday. Image source: NIO.

Given that, it's not really surprising that Nikola and Workhorse, both of which have little revenue at their current stages of growth, were down sharply on Friday afternoon. It's also not surprising that NIO, which does have revenue -- and which doesn't yet sell vehicles in the U.S. or Europe, where COVID-19 cases are rising sharply -- was less affected.

There's another factor that might be working in NIO's favor: Citing CEO William Li, Chinese business media reported on Friday that the company is working on a new 150-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack. The new pack would give much-longer range than the company's current 70 kWh and 84 kWh packs -- but would be the same size, making it compatible with earlier NIO vehicles as well as the company's battery-swap stations, according to reports.

Now what

None of the companies has yet reported third-quarter earnings results; all three are expected to report in November.

Nikola will report after the market closes on Nov. 9. CEO Mark Russell will likely continue his recent efforts to reassure auto investors that the company's go-to-market plan remains on track following the abrupt departure of founder Trevor Milton in September.

NIO hasn't yet said when it will report its third-quarter results, but I expect them around mid-November. The quarter appears to have been a good one: NIO's third-quarter sales blew past its own lofty expectations; it rolled out an innovative batteries-as-a-service plan, and it used the proceeds of a successful secondary offering to buy back some of the equity it gave up in a bailout deal earlier this year.

Workhorse Group will report before the market opens on Nov. 9. I expect an update on the company's new C-Series electric package-delivery vans, which began shipping in small numbers during the quarter. 

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