This month marks the 36th anniversary of one of the most important events in U.S. automotive history.
It was the launch of a car so far ahead of its time that it might as well have been science fiction. And, well, it actually was.
On Sept. 26, 1982, TV viewers got a glimpse of the future of the automobile industry. I’m talking about KITT, the artificial intelligence-powered auto costar of the series Knight Rider.
(Okay, not so important. But still – worth considering.)
The 1982 Pontiac Firebird featured advanced tech systems, including a camera, navigation, video, voice integration, machine vision, and even a forerunner of Wi-Fi.
KITT was a fully networked ride – decades before we started talking about “networks.”
And today, Knight Rider’s advanced vision of auto tech is here in connected cars and autonomous vehicles – or at least bits and pieces of it are arriving on a daily basis.
As someone who love both cars and technology, I’m impressed at just how prescient Knight Rider turned out to be.
With that in mind, I’m going to reveal a great “pick and shovel” play on the connected car that is poised for big gains for years to come.
Plus, it targets other hot industries, like next-generation AI and cloud computing.
Take a look…
The Futurists at NBC
Like I said, it’s amazing how much the creators of Knight Rider got right.
The Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT’s full name) was even embedded with self-driving features. And KITT’s supercomputer was so advanced that the sporty auto could track other objects around it in real time.
Clearly, though we didn’t realize it back in the 1980s (we just thought we were watching a cool show), KITT showed us the future: the world of today’s computer-centric, connected cars and tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles.
Make no mistake, the connected car is quickly becoming the standard. By 2025, nearly every one of the 80 million cars made each year will be supercomputers on wheels.
They’ll have computer network connections like Wi-Fi, voice control for navigation and other operations, machine vision, and a range of self-driving operations. They’re also becoming wireless nodes that can “talk” to other cars to avoid traffic and collisions.
As savvy tech investors, we’re looking for a backend play that allows us to capture the growth of the entire field, without having to pick a specific car manufacturer.
And I’ve found one…
The Best-Kept Secret in Tech
That’s why I remain a big advocate for Silicon Valley chip leader Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA). Wall Street wrote off this company several years ago as merely a play on computer gaming.
See, Nvidia pioneered the graphics chips known as GPUs. Yes, the original idea was to create robust processors that gave video-game players an immersive experience.
However, Nvidia found that those powerful GPUs could be tweaked to deliver robust performance for other needs. And these little superchips have kept the company at the forefront of key tech trends over the last few years.
For starters, it’s a great play on current connected cars. A big part of tech for these cars is a platform known as advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) – and Nvidia makes the best chip for that.
Simply stated, ADAS helps make humans much better drivers. It provides heads-up displays in the dashboard, lane-return assistance, collision avoidance, voice-guided navigation, and adaptive cruise control that keeps a car in pace with those around it.
It’s a great market for Nvidia. Grandview Research says this segment is growing at 19% a year and will be worth $67.4 billion by 2025 when most cars on the road will have ADAS.
And let’s not forget that Nvidia is way out in front of the market for fully autonomous cars and trucks. Again, we’re talking a big opportunity – Boston Consulting Group values this segment at $42 billion by 2025.
For investors, owning a share of Nvidia is like owning an exchange-traded fund focused on auto tech. The company now works with 370 auto firms covering virtually the entire global industry.
It’s working with Audi AG (OTC: AUDVF), Daimler AG (OTCMKTS: DMLRY), Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), and Volvo AB (OTC: VLVLY) – and that’s the short list. The full list of Nvidia’s auto partners would run several pages. Nvidia has also partnered with several makers of heavy-duty trucks to get them ready for driverless deliveries.
Nvidia cemented its lead in this category in early 2016 by unveiling what is essentially a supercomputer on wheels.
Nvidia’s Drive PX series (its Drive PX2 chip is pictured) is an end-to-end deep learning system that will help self-driving cars move into the mainstream. The system can learn, adapt, and improve, which is crucial when you realize that it’s impossible to write software that anticipates every possible scenario that an autonomous vehicle might face.
Talk about a powerful platform. Nvidia says the system can perform 24 trillion deep learning operations per second, making it as powerful as 150 MacBook Pro laptops.
Much More Than Games and Cars
As you might expect, Nvidia’s powerful GPUs also are great for artificial intelligence. That’s a technology Merrill Lynch says could be worth $70 billion by 2020.
By making computers “think” more like humans, AI will drive progress in so many fields from robotics and software to Big Data and biotech. AI will even be able to give us personal assistants that run our homes and offices, as well as our web searches.
Nvidia also has optimized some of its chips for data centers. These are the remote facilities used in cloud computing that make Nvidia the ultimate high-tech middleman. See, everything from wireless web and online searches to hosted applications to AI calculations run through data centers.
Nvidia’s work here is really paying off. In the most recent quarter, its data center sales grew by 83% from a year earlier to $760 million.
Nvidia opened today at $275, giving it a market cap of $169.19 billion. But it won’t stay there for long. This chip leader is truly firing on all cylinders
At the end of its fiscal quarter, July 29, Nvidia grew its earnings by 91% from the year-ago quarter to $1.76 per share. The firm cited strong growth in every product segments.
In other words, Nvidia is more than just a play on the connected car. It’s the kind of aggressive growth stock that can put you in the fast lane on the road to wealth.
I’ll see you back here soon with more high-octane ways to get you on the road to wealth.
Michael A. Robinson
Source: Strategic Tech Investor