The stocks of several electric vehicle companies are surging

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Rivian R1T all-electric truck in Times Square on listing day, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021 in New York.
Ann-Sophie Fjello-Jensen | AP

Beaten-up shares of several electric-vehicle start-ups moved sharply higher Thursday morning in wild and largely unexplained trading.

Rivian Automotive after market close on Wednesday reported a first-quarter loss that was narrower than Wall Street had expected, and Lordstown Motors announced a crucial deal to sell its Ohio factory had closed.

The stocks were up roughly 16% and 45%, respectively, in mid-morning trading.

Here are some other major EV stock moves, as of noon in New York:

Several companies in the group, including Lucid, Fisker, Nikola and Rivian, offered quarterly updates in recent days that came in better than Wall Street had expected and mostly reassured investors that longer-term business plans remain on track.

That said, many of the EV names making the biggest moves on Thursday are former “meme stocks” that ran up sharply last year on intense interest from retail investors. Many have since been heavily shorted. Stocks with high short interest often soar during market rallies, as investors holding short positions move to cover by buying the stock, adding upward pressure to the move.

Two of the most prominent meme stocks, GameStop and AMC Entertainment, were also sharply higher Thursday — at one point up double digits each — with trading in GameStop halted several times for volatility.

Even with the sudden rally, all the EV stocks are still trading far below their 2021 highs. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index is still roughly 30% off its record high.

Notably absent from the list of big EV movers Thursday was Tesla, industry leader in electric vehicle production. Tesla shares were off 2% mid-morning.

Traditional automakers Ford Motor and General Motors were faring even worse, down nearly 3% and 5%, respectively, after Wells Fargo analyst Colin Langan cut the bank’s ratings on both to “underweight” late Wednesday night.

Used-car network Carvana, another heavily shorted stock, was up over 40% at one point Thursday morning.

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