Life wasn’t easy for Karl Benz.
He was born on November 25, 1844 in Karlsruhe, Baden, which is now part of Germany.
His father died in a railway accident when he was just two. He and his mother lived on very little money. His first business went bankrupt in its first year.
But he did have smarts, which was evident from a very early age. He began college at the young age of 15, receiving his mechanical engineering degree at 19 from the University of Karlsruhe.
While riding his bicycle in his younger years, Karl envisioned the idea of a “horseless carriage”… a vehicle that could power itself. He worked especially hard on a gasoline-powered engine, receiving his first patent in 1879. Six years later, he completed what’s widely credited as the first vehicle that could move on its own powered by an internal combustion engine.
In other words, he created the first car.
Karl Benz’ name is now synonymous with cars. He went on to found the Benz Company, the forerunner of Daimler-Benz, Mercedes-Benz, and Daimler Chrysler. And while there weren’t as many cars on the road when he died in 1929 as there are today, he did witness the early explosion of the car and the fruit of his hard work and brilliance.
Even so, he surely did not grasp that his invention was a major pivot point in human history. Cars made us more mobile. They led us to scour the world in search of iron ore deposits, oil deposits, copper deposits, and rubber resources. They led us to build millions of miles of highways. They led to muscle cars, the Daytona 500, commuter traffic, trucking, the suburbs, drive-through restaurants – I could go on and on.
We have society before cars, and we have society after cars.
As I detailed a few days ago, we are on the cusp of a similar demarcation line – the beginning of a new chapter that will again reshape the world we live in. What’s coming is big. That’s why Intel bet $15 billion on it. It’s why Alphabet, Apple, Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and more are also betting big on it.
Let me tell you how one of the biggest technological changes of all time will create huge winners and losers.
The Car of the Future
The car as we know it is on the verge of a transformative change not seen since Karl Benz invented it. In fact, the whole transportation sector is now poised for its version of 2.0. I’m not exaggerating when I say this will lead to trillions of dollars in money sloshing around in the coming decades.
It’s a two-fold transformation. Electric vehicles (EVs) are phase one. They started as hybrid cars that combine a typical gasoline engine with electric batteries to power the vehicle. More recently, completely electric vehicles – like those from Tesla – have hit the markets.
At this point, only 1.3% of all new vehicles sold around the globe are EVs – and this includes both hybrids and pure EVs. That still small number shows the enormous growth potential in the coming decades.
Self-driving cars are already on our roads in limited numbers, but the story is just now beginning. This is one of those rare opportunities to buy into a powerful investment theme on the ground floor.
Vehicle sales, supplies, and service are already a $7 trillion industry, one that is about to be changed forever. Transportation 2.0 will change your life in the coming decade.
I guarantee whatever you can envision right now is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s just like 10 years ago when the first iPhone was released. Very few people imagined how that device would change our world. Innovation is often difficult to imagine beyond a few years. Those who can grasp where the world will be in the next decade are the innovators disrupting industries around the globe.
But there are skeptics out there. When I talk to investors about the future of AVs and the opportunities for investors, I can see the looks on their faces. Can an industry really go from no sales to an estimated 33 million units in 2040?
Yes, it can. The process will really kick off in 2021. That will be a banner year because consumers like us will be able to actually buy an autonomous vehicle. This will be the first year of measurable AV sales – and remember, it’s just two years away now. IHS Markit predicts 51,000 AVs will be sold in 2021.
As the adoption of AVs spreads around the world, it will lead to 20X growth in a matter of only four more years. By 2025, the number should expand to one million vehicles sold.
Momentum will continue to build. Over the following 15 years, the number of AVs – available for personal use, car sharing, public transportation, delivery, and just about any other purpose you can think of – will lead to 33 million units sold in 2040.
A lot of the leaders are based in the United States, but by 2040 the majority of AVs will actually be sold in China. Estimates are 14.5 million to be sold there. In the United States, about half as many, or 7.4 million units, are expected.
So let’s add it all up: The 19 years from 2021 to 2040 will see annual sales of AVs grow by 660-fold!
Let’s get to the dollars, which is where this becomes very interesting. UBS estimates that global revenue from self-driving technology could reach $2.8 trillion by 2030. That number is massive. It is currently next to nothing, so if UBS is correct, over $2 trillion will change hands in the next 11 years.
ARK Investments goes even bigger. It sees the autonomous platform industry being worth more than $4 trillion by 2030. That’s more than the entire global energy sector today.
Beyond Self-Driving Cars
Cars may be the biggest growth opportunity and most exciting part of the AV trend, but much of the transportation industry will be transformed.
Just look at trucking. The biggest problem for trucking companies is finding drivers. Bonuses for new drivers are common now, sometimes up to $20,000! The problem is expected to worsen, so what about trucks that can drive themselves? That’s right… the race is on to automate trucks as well.
The picture above is of the world’s first shipment by a self-driving truck. Equipped with technology from Otto, an American company, this truck hauled 51,744 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colorado through downtown Denver and south to Colorado Springs.
Uber bought Otto in August 2016 and the Budweiser shipment took place two months later, but last summer Uber announced it would stop developing the self-driving truck and focus instead on passenger AVs.
Does this change the race to automated trucks? Not one bit. It will be a minor footnote in history. Others are putting the pedal to the metal with their self-driving truck ambitions, including Tesla, Alphabet subsidiary Waymo, and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.
The automation of cars and other vehicles is an exploding trend. It saves consumers time and money. It saves businesses time and money. Plus, it will make travel safer.
The disruption of this industry is just beginning, and it will lead to trillions of dollars moving from the old to the new. Smart investors will get in now to ride as much of the coming wave as possible.
In tomorrow’s essay, we’ll look at a proven investing strategy that goes all the way back to the Gold Rush and is perfect for making money at this early stage of AVs.
P.S. It used to take the typical Fortune 500 company about 20 years on average to reach $1 billion in value. But not anymore.
In 2004, Facebook reached $1 billion in just five years, which was considered incredible. In 2009, Uber hit $1 billion in under three years. And in 2012, virtual reality firm Oculus did it in less than two years.
As you can see, it’s taking less and less time to generate incredible wealth. What once took 20-plus years can happen today in just a few years.
As autonomous vehicles go mainstream, I’m absolutely convinced their adoption will create huge fortunes at incredible rates of speed. If you can claim a small stake in the companies developing this technology now, you could benefit from one of the rarest, most powerful economic forces in history.
I recently “went public” with our exhaustive, six-month research project and have laid out everything you need to know. You can view our presentation by clicking here.
Note: This is Part 3 of a series on the opportunity in autonomous vehicles. Click here to read Part 4 now.