Renewable energy continues to disrupt the traditional energy industry as the costs of wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy come down. That's created a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity in the industry that extends from electrical power generation to electric vehicles and energy storage. 

As we look at opportunities with decades of potential growth, three of our contributors identified General Motors (GM 0.87%), Lucid Motors through Churchill Capital Corp IV (CCIV), and NIO (NIO 0.62%) as renewable energy stocks that could crush the market. They're not traditional renewable energy stocks, but they are bringing a lot of disruption to the energy industry long term. 

Electric vehicle getting charged in futuristic environment.

Image source: Getty Images.

The mass-market EV company

Travis Hoium (General Motors): Renewable energy comes in a lot of forms and doesn't have to be just about wind and solar replacing energy sources like coal and natural gas. A large portion of the energy we consume is in the form of oil in vehicles. Making the transition to electric vehicles in the mass market is critical to using more renewable energy, and General Motors will be a key to mass-market EVs. 

Tesla (TSLA 3.17%) gets most of the attention in the EV market, but GM is investing $27 billion in EV and autonomous vehicle product development between 2020 and 2025 and expects to deliver 1 million electric vehicles globally by 2025. The company has already announced the Chevy Bolt, Cadillac LYRIQ, GMC Hummer EV, and an upcoming Silverado electric pickup, but that's likely just the start. Forty percent of models are expected to be electric by 2025 and management thinks the entire fleet could be electric by 2035. 

The impact on energy could be enormous. Replacing a gasoline-powered engine with electricity allows users to power their vehicles with wind or solar if they've chosen that form of electricity generation. EV charging networks could be powered entirely by renewables. And EV owners are more likely to also have a solar system on their roof, increasing the odds of onsite renewable energy production. 

To take GM's renewable energy shift to the next level, the company's Cruise subsidiary has committed to using "100% renewable energy" for its electric-powered Origin autonomous ride-sharing vehicle. I think Cruise could ultimately be the biggest asset in GM's portfolio, and if it disrupts vehicle ownership and is run on renewable energy it could make GM one of the biggest reasons the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is possible. 

Competitive technology that's ready to scale

Daniel Foelber (Lucid Motors): Lucid Motors, which plans to raise $4.6 billion when it merges with a SPAC called Churchill Capital IV, has seen its shares climb upwards of 35% over the last month. The company plans to begin delivering its highly anticipated luxury sedan, the Lucid Air Dream Edition, in the second half of this year. With a price tag of $169,000 before federal tax credits, the Dream Edition is by no means cheap. But Lucid plans to phase in three additional trims of the Air between now and 2023. The lowest-priced trim, the Lucid Air Pure, would start at a sticker price below $70,000, assuming a federal tax credit of $7,500. 

Tapping into the ultra-competitive luxury car market is usually ill-advised. But in Lucid's case, the company has legitimate advantages that give it an edge over rivals like Tesla. With a management team that's a cross between Silicon Valley, legacy automaker, and ex-Tesla employees, Lucid is chock-full of top tier talent. It has spent the last five years designing its own technology and plans to build it all in-house at its production plant in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Lucid's Dream Edition has a projected EPA-rated range of 503 miles and 1,080 horsepower, which would make it the first EV to exceed the coveted 500-mile threshold. Its bidirectional 900-volt architecture lets it charge up to 300 miles in less than 20 minutes, as well as power a home if needed. The company's fully integrated powertrain with a smaller, lower-cost battery pack makes it one of the most efficient EVs in terms of miles per kWh. 

The company sees the global luxury car market growing from just under $500 billion in 2018 to upwards of $730 billion by 2026, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 5%. But Lucid thinks it will be able to grow much faster than that. It expects to deliver 20,000 vehicles in 2022, earning $2.2 billion in revenue and $34 million in gross profit. After rolling out more affordable trims of the Lucid Air, it expects 2023 gross profit to exceed $1 billion and revenue to grow at a CAGR of over 59% between 2022 and 2026. 

Lucid's future hinges on its ability to hit deadlines and maintain a technological edge over the competition. Given that the company is in the early innings of its growth strategy, investors should expect plenty of volatility, as well as adjustments to timelines and performance forecasts. For risk-tolerant investors looking for a growth stock in the burgeoning EV space, Lucid seems to offer one of the best risk-reward profiles out there.

It starts with the right market

Howard Smith (NIO): It's not often that one would designate the stock of a company that almost went out of business as unstoppable. As recently as early 2020, NIO's business flirted with bankruptcy. But a push by the Chinese government to accelerate growth in the country's EV industry contributed to strong sales growth, and investors piled in. 

The company continues to rapidly grow sales inside China, the largest automotive market globally, and the one with the most potential for EVs. But NIO has also recently announced plans to move into Europe, which is also a huge market. What was once a stock with a market capitalization approaching $100 billion has dropped about 25%. That doesn't make it cheap, but with what looks like a business that can grow for decades, it's one that could justify a higher-risk investment. 

Interior of NIO ET7 electric luxury sedan.

Interior of NIO ET7 electric luxury sedan. Image source: NIO.

Vehicle deliveries increased by 113% in 2020 compared to the prior year. But for the first quarter of 2021, NIO delivered 20,060 vehicles representing an increase of 423% year over year. Like many other automakers, the company's production has recently been hit by the global semiconductor chip shortage. But assuming that will be a short-term impact, there's plenty more to look forward to. 

NIO announced it will begin production on its first sedan, the luxury ET7, early next year. And the company will begin sales in Europe, starting with Norway, in September 2021. NIO said it will initially sell its flagship ES8 electric SUV in Norway, followed by the new ET7 luxury sedan. And later in 2022, it will install battery swap stations in the country, replicating the network it has in place in China. The charging and battery swap program brings in additional subscription revenue to the company. 

NIO is adding another manufacturing plant, and its expansion outside of China should continue. With the expected demand for EVs globally, NIO looks to be a long-term growth story that can't be stopped. 

Electric vehicles could be at the heart of energy disruption

We've all chosen car companies as our renewable energy stocks that can't be stopped and there's a good reason behind that. The transition to electric vehicles is happening rapidly and GM, Lucid, and NIO are leading the way. That will not only replace gasoline-powered vehicles, but it could also add backup power to homes. EVs and backup power have years and maybe decades of growth ahead and that's why the EV industry is the focus of our picks today.