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Car of the Near FutureFact: Autonomous cars are on the horizon. Investors who get in now can still access inexpensive ways to find a seat in the driverless market.

I received my driver’s license long enough ago to remember gas was around $.33 per gallon. Along with the license was the knowledge that I had to drive the car myself.

I’m still driving, but gas is now closer to $4.00 for that same gallon, and soon the car in the next lane just might be driven by a software chip that I can’t see, while the passengers are engaged in a videoconference from the middle of the car body.

The scenario isn’t so far-fetched. While full-scale production may still be a decade away, make no mistake: it’s a full-sprint race to capture what Roland Berger Strategy Consultants recently called a $40-$60 billion industry by 2030.

Driverless technologies require not only hardware components such as cameras, sensors, and brake systems, but complex software and services to manage mapping systems, driverless robotics, and the endless amenities future passengers will surely demand.

While Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) are hogging the driverless headlines, the industry’s sheer market potential invites competition across the entire automotive industry.

Instead of paying nearly $600 per share for the former, and over $250 per share for the latter, investors can instead pay a fraction for companies in the hunt for various pieces of the driverless pie.

Make no mistake: even small parts of that pie can add up to huge profits and rising share prices for the smartest and most adaptable players.

Here are three companies in the middle of the fight for their share of revenue—and profit—down the road.

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