Investors seeking exposure to the driverless car revolution now have the option of buying into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) specifically dedicated to driverless cars, electric vehicles and other innovations in the automobile industry.
Among this new class of ETFs are KraneShares Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility ETF (NYSEARCA: KARS), which debuted in January of 2018, InnovationShares NextGen Vehicle and Technology ETF (NYSE: EKAR), which debuted in February 2018, and Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF (NASDAQ: DRIV), which debuted in April 2018. Previously, there were no ETFs directly related to self-driving cars and electric vehicles, and only one ETF was focused on the automobile industry.
KraneShares Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility ETF
The KraneShares Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility ETF had $33.7 million in net assets as of September 2018. The fund tracks the performance of Solactive Electric Vehicles and Future Mobility Index, which includes global companies involved with new transportation methods. These companies focus on electric vehicles or their components, technologies related to autonomous driving, shared mobility, lithium and copper production, hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing and other innovations in the sector.
InnovationShares NextGen Vehicle and Technology ETF
The InnovationShares NextGen Vehicle and Technology ETF is made up of global stocks related to electric autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles. The fund invests in companies that fall into four categories within the sector: battery producers, original equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and producers of semiconductors and software. The ETF had $2.4 million in net assets as of September 2018.
Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF
The Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF seeks to correspond to the Solactive Autonomous and Electric Vehicles Index. The fund invests in companies that are involved in the development and manufacturing of software and hardware for driverless vehicles, and companies that produce electric vehicles and their components, such as lithium and cobalt. As of September 2018, the fund had $19.1 million in net assets.
Related ETF Options
People looking to invest in driverless cars also have the option of adding ETFs to their portfolio that are focused on the automobile industry and related technological innovations.
First Trust's Global Auto Index Fund (NASDAQ: CARZ) was launched in 2011, and until 2018, it was the only ETF related to the automobile industry. As of September 2018, the fund had $18.4 million in net assets. The ETF tracks the NASDAQ OMX Global Auto Index, which includes nearly all of the major automobile manufacturers worldwide. Holdings include Honda Motor Company (NYSE: HMC), General Motors (NYSE: GM), Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM) and Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA).
Another more broad investment option related to driverless cars is the Industrial Innovation ETF by ARK Invest (NYSEARCA: ARKQ), which launched in 2014 and had reached $180 million in net assets as of September 2018. This is an actively managed fund that invests in companies identified as being likely to benefit from technological advancements—including those related to electric and autonomous vehicles. Software and IT services companies, semiconductor firms and automobile companies combine to account for about 60% of the portfolio assets.
ETF investors may also wish to consider a fund like the First Trust Clean Edge Green Energy Index Fund (NASDAQ: QCLN). Launched by First Trust in 2007, the ETF focuses on companies involved in providing clean alternative energy. While there's no direct connection to driverless cars, there is some significant overlap between companies involved in developing driverless cars and those involved in clean energy. This fund, which tracks the NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy Index composed of U.S.-listed firms engaged in developing clean energy, had $96.5 million in net assets as of September 2018. Semiconductor firms, which are likely to be essential in creating driverless car technology, account for about a third of the portfolio holdings.