The dream of self-driving cars has been around for generations. Soon, it may be a reality. The idea of not having to work or worry as you travel from place to place, but to simply get in your car and go, is a powerful dream. Likewise, if self-driving cars can have faster and better reaction times than humans, they could prove far safer and more effective. These types of cars could fundamentally change how we move around, so investing in self-driving car stocks is a no-brainer.
There are many angles to look for the top self-driving car stocks. Some companies are selling the actual cars, some are selling the self-driving technology and others are selling the machinery that makes that technology work. With a broad market like this one, it’s good to invest in many high-potential self-driving stocks.
Interestingly, there is still no consensus on the best way to make a self-driving car. Many companies use different types of information and information processing to let their cars know where they are and what they’re doing. Different businesses are still exploring light detection and ranging (LIDAR), cameras and other options. So, an investor should be open to investing in many different self-driving technologies in the hopes that at least one will hit it big.
If self-driving does hit it big, the returns could be monumental. You won’t want to miss out on the gains these stocks could bring, just as you wouldn’t want to be left out of a self-driving future. As the technology continues to improve and gain traction, here are three of the best self-driving stocks for July 2023.
Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is well known for its semiconductors. But one of their most promising plays for the future is in Mobileye (NASDAQ:MBLY), a top self-driving car stock in which they own more than 90% of the shares. Mobileye is used to provide driver assistance by many of the world’s biggest car companies like Ford and Volkswagen. By 2022, it was already used in over 100 million cars. Through Mobileye, Intel’s chips and technology have the potential to power the future of self-driving cars.
And the company is only getting better as more cars use the technology. Mobileye crowdsources data from cars to create high-resolution maps of the road. From this, Mobileye-powered cars can better know what hazards may be ahead and avoid them.
Mobileye may also benefit from certain synergies if Intel regains a lead in chips and chip-making. Samsung currently produces its chips. But if Intel regains ground in the chip space, having it make Molbileye’s chips would make sense and benefit both companies.
It is important to note that Mobileye does have its own stock ticker — MBLY. But almost the entire float is held by Intel, with very little held by outside investors. The volume of MBLY is often low and the bid/ask spread is often high, making it less of a good investment vehicle than Intel itself. Meanwhile, Intel will reap most of the rewards from any value gained through Mobileye. So while you could buy Mobileye stock, it makes much more sense at this time to buy Intel if you’re investing in self-driving car stocks.
Some may scoff at Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) self-driving possibilities. The company has claimed since 2015 that they’ll have fully self-driving cars in a year or two. Yet, time passes and true self-driving Teslas remain an illusion. Tesla is even facing an investor lawsuit over its failure to bring about a real self-driven product.
Despite over-promising, Tesla still has demonstrated world-class self-driving capabilities in its cars, which remain some of the most popular in the world. As the company continues to grow its sales numbers, it also increases its self-driving footprint. That, in turn, could lead to even better self-driving capabilities, as data collection from Tesla driving is utilized to further improve its self-driving suite.
Tesla’s self-driving Full Self Driving feature is its most eye-catching and comes as either an upfront payment or a monthly subscription. While it still requires the driver to maintain control of the vehicle at all times, it lets the person do a lot less work to arrive at their destination. Tesla also offers catchy self-driving features like Smart Summon, which allows a Tesla to come to its owner in a parking lot. That is hardly a world-changing feature, but it cannot be denied that it has a coolness factor that gets social media attention. And attention is a necessary ingredient to expanding your customer base.
Ultimately Tesla’s ace in the hole is that it is a more famous and more interesting self-driving company than its competitors. Many customers would struggle to name any self-driving company that is not Tesla. And with that, a certain number of customers eager for self-driving will look first at Tesla over its competitors. Whether or not Tesla’s technology is first-rate or overhyped, they may win the self-driving car race on fame alone.
Luminar Technologies (LAZR)
Luminar Technologies (NASDAQ:LAZR) uses LIDAR to enable precise mapping and perception on the roads. This mapping is then fed into cars to enable collision avoidance and driver assistance. Luminar’s LIDAR has gained numerous partnerships within the automotive industry. They have collaborations with large car manufacturers such as Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. These companies are now integrating Luminar’s autonomous driving features into their vehicles.
Furthermore, Luminar’s partnership with Volvo aims to make self-driving cars not look like self-driving cars. Some consumers see an aesthetic ugliness in a car fitted with visible sensors and gaudy cameras. By eliminating these visual blemishes, Luminar’s system may better reach higher-end and picky customers. A big part of getting customers to adopt a new thing is making them feel it’s at least as good as the old thing. For some customers, the style of their car is very important.
Financially, Luminar is one of the most speculative stocks in the self-driving space. In the first 3 months of 2023, their earnings showed revenue of $14.5 million and a net loss of $147 million. While revenue grew year on year, net loss grew much faster. Luminar has $90 million in cash and cash equivalents, so investors should be wary of possible dilution as the company tries to stay afloat. They do have $332 million in held securities, so they aren’t going bankrupt immediately, but their position needs to improve drastically.
However, Luminar is one of the most interesting high-potential self-driving car stocks — aesthetically. If Luminar can make self-driving cars look as sleek and stylish as traditional cars, they and their partners can break into the market in a big way. And that would make them one of the top self-driving car stocks you could ever own.
On the date of publication, John Blankenhorn held a long position in INTC. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.