Auto ETFs Rev Up as Microsoft Bets on GM's Driverless Cars | ETF Trends

Automobile-related exchange traded funds accelerated Tuesday after Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) invested in General Motors Co. (GM) in anticipation of the next generation of driverless cars.

On Tuesday, the First Trust Nasdaq Transportation ETF (FTXR) gained 1.5%, the First Trust NASDAQ Global Auto Index Fund (CARZ) rose 3.2%, and the iShares Self-Driving EV and Tech ETF (IDRV) added 1.9%.

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Meanwhile, General Motors surged 9.6%. GM make sup 8.2% of FTXR, 7.6% of CARZ and 3.1% of IDRV.

In a sign of increased interest for autonomous technology, Microsoft joins several others companies investing over $2 billion into General Motors” startup Cruise, bringing Cruise’s valuation to $30 billion, compared to an estimated $19 billion back in spring 2019, the Wall Street Journal reports.

General Motors is the majority stakeholder in Cruise. Cruise also includes stakeholders Honda Motors Co. and other institutional investors.

Cruise will utilize Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing service to roll out its autonomous-vehicle services. The company been testing driverless vehicles around San Francisco and expects an eventual robot-taxi service. The startup also wants to dabble into commercial deliveries.

Analysts argue that driverless cars could accumulate large data banks for autonomous-service operators to capture, store, and eventually monetize, which isn’t a surprise since automakers and tech companies are already extracting data from the growing number of vehicles with internet connections.

Cruise Chief Executive Dan Ammann anticipates Microsoft’s involvement to help the company commercialize its technology while Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella showed his desire for autonomous cars to go mainstream.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has bet on a growth strategy on electric cars and expanding into services, such as connected-car features and a future autonomous-vehicle network. Analysts pointed out that investors are beginning to warm up to GM’s new focus on electric and autonomous vehicles.

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