General Motors (GM -0.91%) might seem like a stock from yesteryear, particularly when compared to high-flying Tesla. But the old-school automaker has big plans for the future. And most of its hopes lie in its self-driving subsidiary, Cruise.
In this episode of "The 5," Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium discuss why he loves G.M. right now. This segment was recorded on Oct 21. Motley Fool contributor Jason Hall is also in the clip.
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Travis Hoium: The company I wanted to talk about here was General Motors, may have heard of this one. But this is a company that, I'm not really a big into the auto industry and buying auto manufacturers, but they are majority owner of Cruise.
Jason Hall: You mean to tell me that you don't want a low-margin, highly cyclical, extremely high fixed cost business?
Travis Hoium: That's not really attractive to me. They've gone bankrupt sometime in the last 15 years or so.
Jason Hall: That's true.
Travis Hoium: What they've really done a great job is become a leader in the autonomous driving space, and that's through their majority ownership of a company called Cruise. They are acquired Cruise and they've effectively kept Cruise completely separate. As a company Cruise has its own Board of directors, they have their own funding sources, which includes GM, but also includes a lot of other large investors, and they are building out autonomous vehicle technology. What they're using General Motors for is basically to be their third-party manufacturer, and then also a source of financing. GM has their financing arm, they're allowing Cruise to use that to build out their autonomous vehicle fleet, so this gives them a huge advantage over some of the other upstarts in the space. There are a lot of companies talking about autonomous driving, but Cruise is clearly one of the leaders. They're licensed in California to operate with commercial customers now at this point, so I think we'll start seeing their products rollout across the country, and this is something that I think is really going to disrupt driving as a whole. I would love to not own a vehicle, [laughs] just pay per mile and just be able to say, "Hey, autonomous vehicle, come pick me up." This is something where General Motors, I think we oftentimes think of this as a legacy automaker. But through its investment in Cruise, this could become one of the most disruptive companies in the transportation space. One thing I wanted to show to here for investors is they've actually done really well from an investment standpoint. This is the price chart for General Motors, Tesla, and the S&P 500 so far in 2021. Surprise, surprise General Motors is the best performer out of that group. As much as the market may not love GM as a stock, at least from a headline perspective, they've actually done very well with investors, I think Cruises is a big reason for that. What's really great about the way that GM is structured and with this Cruise investment is you have this cash-flow machine with General Motors, which may be on the decline long term, and they are able to fund Cruise which I think could be the future of the business. This is a company that I'm watching closely, very bullish on autonomous driving and I think Cruise has a potential to be a huge player in that space.