Automotive exchange-traded funds (ETFs) provide exposure to the performance of companies within the global automobile industry. The auto industry includes companies that manufacture cars, trucks, vans, and commercial vehicles. It also includes companies that supply automobile parts. Well-known names in the industry include Tesla Inc. (TSLA), now the world's largest automaker by market value, and also Ford Motor Co. (F), Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), and General Motors Co. (GM). Auto ETFs are comprised of a basket of automobile equities, enabling investors to profit from the broader growth of the auto industry while avoiding the idiosyncratic risk associated with a single company.

Key Takeaways

  • The auto industry dramatically outperformed the broader market over the past year.
  • The best (and only) auto ETF is CARZ.
  • Its top three holdings are General Motors Co., Daimler AG, and Honda Motor Co, Ltd.

There is only one distinct auto ETF that trades in the U.S. and which has been in existence long enough to have a 1-year trailing total return. There is a second ETF in this area, the Simplify Volt Pop Culture Disruption ETF (VCAR), which opened in December 2020. However, this ETF has not been in existence long enough to be judged according to Investopedia's metrics, and it has very low assets under management (AUM) as of this writing, meaning that it is a risky investment. The best-performing (and only) auto ETF is the First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (CARZ). CARZ's 1-year trailing total return is about double that of the S&P 500's total return as of April 30, 2021. We examine this fund below. All statistics in the list below are as of May 3.

First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (CARZ)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 101.0%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.70%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 0.58%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 23,447
  • Assets Under Management: $68.9 million
  • Inception Date: May 9, 2011
  • Issuer: First Trust

CARZ tracks the Nasdaq OMX Global Auto Index, a modified market-capitalization weighted index that gauges the performance of the largest and most liquid automobile manufacturers. Companies in the index must have a minimum worldwide market capitalization of $500 million. The ETF provides exposure to large-cap equities in the global auto industry. Given its narrow focus on the highly cyclical auto industry, CARZ is likely to have less appeal within a buy-and-hold investment strategy. But it may be useful for providing tactical exposure to the auto industry over the short term. The fund follows a value-centric strategy, focusing on what are known as value stocks, which are stocks that look relatively cheap compared to the rest of the sector. Below is a closer look at the ETF's 10 largest holdings.

First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (CARZ) Top 10 Holdings
Company Name (Ticker) Percent of CARZ Assets Description of Company
General Motors Co. (GM) 8.7% Manufacturer of cars and related parts
Daimler AG ( DAI:ETR) 8.6% Manufacturer of cars, trucks, and vans
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. ( 7267:TKS) 8.4% Manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles
Tesla Inc. (TSLA) 8.2% Electric vehicle manufacturer and clean energy company
Toyota Motor Corp. ( 7203:TKS) 7.8% Manufacturer of cars, trucks, minivans, and commercial vehicles
Porsche Automobil Holding SE Pref ( PAH3:ETR) 4.9% Manufacturer of high-performance sports cars, SUVs, and sedans
Volkswagen AG Pref ( VOW3:ETR) 4.8% Manufacturer of cars and SUVs
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG ( BMW:ETR) 4.5% Manufacturer of luxury vehicles and motorcycles
Ford Motor Co. (F) 3.8% Manufacturer of passenger vehicles
KIA Motors Corp. ( 000270:KRX) 3.8% Manufacturer of passenger cars, mini-buses, trucks, commercial vehicles, and auto parts

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