The global economy is moving toward several exciting trends that lead to new and interesting investment areas like self-driving truck stocks. Driverless vehicles promise a revolution in safety and security because there’ll be no more texting while driving or drunk driving.
This is major. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., and self-driving vehicles can reduce these risks.
It will take some time for companies to get the technology absolutely right. But the positives are massive and cannot be ignored.
Catching trends is one of the best ways you can stay ahead of the market. Nevertheless, it is vital to understand that there are subsegments to every broader trend. The casual investor often ignores these niches. Self-driving truck stocks are an example of one such area.
Most investors will want to pour their capital into more diversified enterprises like Toyota (NYSE:TM), General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F) to gain exposure to driverless technology. But if you have the appetite for a bit of risk, a pure-play approach should be right up your alley.
Let’s take a deep dive into four self-driving truck stocks that are very exciting options in this space:
- TuSimple (NASDAQ:TSP)
- Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp II (NYSE:NGAB)
- Hennessy Capital Investment Corp V (NASDAQ:HCIC)
- Reinvent Technology Partners Y (NASDAQ:RTPY)
Self-Driving Truck Stocks: TuSimple (TSP)
Shares of autonomous trucking tech start-up TuSimple Holdings have had an eventful month. Trading volumes increased considerably as a lockup preventing certain investors from selling shares has expired.
Short-sellers sprang into action as the lockup neared its end, anticipating that the stock would crater. However, the opposite has happened. Retail investors piled into the stock and triggered a short squeeze. TSP stock became yet another example of this group punishing hedge funds — a trend that has become all too familiar this year.
The other major factor impacting TuSimple shares is the ongoing driver shortage. Since more than 68% of all freight is transported on trucks, the problem impacts the economy as a whole.
A larger issue is that the average age of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. is currently 55 years old and increasing. As a result, companies have to scramble to come up with solutions. TuSimple’s autonomous driving software for trucks can help address this issue.
TuSimple’s Class 8 semis are rolling through the Southwest day and night. They have traveled more than one million safe miles running routes for UPS (NYSE:UPS) and McLane Company.
The company’s trucks do still require a human in the driver’s seat as a safety measure. But it believes the technology is getting better, and you can clearly see its applicability on the roads.
Considering these factors and the millions of dollars in funding it has raked in, TuSimple should be your go-to stock for investing in this space.
Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp II (NGAB)
This blank check company is entering the self-driving truck space in a merger with Embark. The San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle Software as a Service (SaaS) company is focused on trucking.
Its flagship product is Embark Driver, a machine-learning, subscription-based system the company claims has driven more than one million real-world miles. Perception data is input into the Vision-Map Fusion (VMF) system, which is built on the industry-standard high-definition (HD) maps and enhanced by cameras and lidar.
VMF allows the Embark Driver software to react to new situations where the HD map may be outdated, such as a construction zone with lane closures. The platform automatically identifies the most important data to focus on and trains the system to improve performance over time.
Founded in 2016, Embark attracted roughly $117 million in total funding before agreeing to a reverse merger with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II in June. The company plans to go public later this year in a deal reportedly worth roughly $5.2 billion. The merger will net Embark about $614 million.
Self-Driving Truck Stocks: Hennessy Capital Investment Corp V (HCIC)
Silicon Valley-based Plus raised $420 million in funds earlier this year in an extended financing round. It then became the latest company to pursue a SPAC merger with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V (HCIC). The deal will give Plus about $500 million to scale operations and invest in new technology.
In June, HCIC filed an 8-K form with the SEC, revealing that Plus subsidiary PlusAI inked a master purchase agreement and work order with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) for “at least 1,000 Plus Retrofit units.” The deal’s completion is subject to forecasted volumes and delivery schedules. Amazon was also granted warrants representing 20% of Plus’s shares at 46 cents apiece.
This is not the first time Amazon has invested in self-driving technology. Last year, the tech giant purchased a Silicon Valley startup called Zoox. It has also invested a notable amount of capital in Aurora.
The PlusDrive operates a suite of sensors, including radar, lidar and cameras, to gather data regarding its surroundings. The system recognizes objects nearby and predicts their movement as it charts its course.
Reinvent Technology Partners Y (RTPY)
Aurora is yet another company looking to debut through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). It will go public through a reverse merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Y.
The deal would immediately value the combined company at $13 billion and give it a total of about $2.5 billion in cash.
The company’s main claim to fame is the Aurora Driver, which is a hardware, software and services platform integrated in vehicles of various makes and sizes. Aurora plans to offer the platform as a “Driver as a service” business model, where partners subscribe on a per-mile basis.
Similar to Embark, Aurora does not want to own a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Instead, it wants the fleet owners to purchase the technology from them.
Ultimately, what should interest investors the most is the technology at the heart of the enterprise. Aurora says it has custom-designed its hardware sensor suite, which includes its exclusive FirstLight lidar. The company believes this tech is superior to its competitors because it has twice the range and will not be affected by external interference.
On the publication date, Faizan Farooque did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Faizan Farooque is a contributing author for InvestorPlace.com and numerous other financial sites. Faizan has several years of experience in analyzing the stock market and was a former data journalist at S&P Global Market Intelligence. His passion is to help the average investor make more informed decisions regarding their portfolio. Faizan does not directly own the securities mentioned above.