Can I Invest In Driverless Car Retrofitting?

By Markets Fool.com

A driverless car future is looking less like an "if" and more like a "when" every week.

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On this industrials segment from Industry Focus, The Motley Fool's Sean O'Reilly and Taylor Muckerman talk about what investors need to know about the companies that will be retrofitting vehicles to be compatible with autonomous software.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Sept. 1, 2016.

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Sean O'Reilly: We have a mailbag question that I wanted to answer from Bill Melton, who emailed us at industryfocus@fool.com. He asked, "All of the discussion was around new driverless cars." He's referring to my recent episode with Mr. John Rosevear. "Is there a company or companies that would be positioned to profit from upgrading existing cars to a driverless state?"

This actually reminded me of Back to the Future Part II, when Marty sees the ad for upgrading your car to flight.

Taylor Muckerman: That seems a little bit more complicated.

O'Reilly: Someday.

Muckerman: Yeah, maybe.

O'Reilly: Bill, that is a great question. I can't thank you enough for writing in. To our knowledge, there are no direct plays on retrofitting regular cars for driverless functionality. There's no auto body shop or chain, or anything that's doing this. There are companies that are working on this, as well as other stuff. Anybody that's going to be working on upgrading a non-driverless car to driverless functionality in any capacity is probably going to be working on the same thing for new autonomous vehicles. One of the leaders in this was recently acquired by General Motors(NYSE: GM) for $1 billion back in March, it's what's now called their Cruise Division. It was just called Cruise. They were literally a Silicon Valley start-up that focused on creating a self-driving car kit for everybody's cars.

You've, of course, also got, I expect, in the future -- these are publicly traded options -- Delphi Automotive(NYSE: DLPH), which, of course, just announced their team-up with Mobileye(NYSE: MBLY) to offer an entire system that will be available to any automaker for new cars. I would assume that Mobileye and Delphi will have something available for regular cars. You also have a bunch of private companies that are in on this. One of which -- a coworker mentioned to me -- was a Silicon Valley start-up, drive.ai. They're focusing more on the software, as I understand it. The bottom line is, Delphi and Mobileye will probably get in on it. Cruise has a system. But this isn't even the first inning. I don't think we've had the first pitch thrown in the game of retrofitting cars.

Muckerman: Yeah, that seems like a very complicated and expensive process.

O'Reilly: And, would you want to do that? It's a gamble.

Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. Taylor Muckerman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.