Rivian's stock IPO shows sector's big profit potential.
U.S. electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive Inc. (ticker: RIVN) exploded onto the scene with news that it's building sport utility EVs and electric pickup trucks using a flexible platform that can support future vehicle models or even other third-party designs. But what really has investors excited is the 70% gain in RIVN stock over its initial public offering price, showing the big-time profit potential of electric vehicle stocks. Of course, it's not every day that a new EV IPO comes along — and even when it does, how do you know that company will succeed? For many investors, a more diversified approach could be a better bet. The following seven electric vehicle and battery exchange-traded funds offer a way to play the general trend without picking individual winners.
Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (LIT)
At nearly $6 billion in assets, LIT is the largest electric vehicle ETF on this list. The majority of the fund's top holdings are lithium and battery companies. Its portfolio holds about 40 companies and roughly 16% of its assets are in the top-two companies alone: Charlotte-based lithium giant Albemarle Corp. (ALB) and EV giant Tesla Inc. (TSLA). There is undeniably a different risk profile here, as lithium producers are subject to commodity prices more than general EV demand. But if you truly believe in the EV revolution, this Global X fund gets you in on the ground floor of battery technology, which is good regardless of which nameplate is on the most popular plug-in car today or tomorrow.
Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF (DRIV)
Global X also offers this DRIV fund, which is slightly smaller at just more than $1 billion in assets under management but offers more direct exposure to the largest EV stocks. The only catch, as the name implies, is that it also offers exposure to autonomous vehicle technology companies that may only be tangentially related to current EV production. That means that among its 80 or so holdings, you'll find not only core EV plays like Tesla in the top spot, but also names like high-flying semiconductor and artificial intelligence play Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) as well as Google parent company Alphabet Inc. (GOOG, GOOGL) that has high hopes for its Waymo self-driving car project.
iShares Self-Driving EV and Tech ETF (IDRV)
Another relatively established fund, boasting about $550 million in assets and sponsored by ETF management firm iShares, this EV fund has the longest list of components with about 100 holdings. Unfortunately, that big list of total stocks is also inclusive of nonintuitive EV names such as chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) that tops the list as well as more traditional automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) and General Motors Co. (GM) further down. Tesla does come in second with about 6.4% weighting, but this is very much a catchall fund that covers a lot of tech stocks, chipmakers and vehicle manufacturers — all of whom have a foothold in the EV marketplace as part of their operations, but sometimes it's just a small piece of their overall business. That's bad news if you're looking for a direct play on small EV upstarts, but the good news is this is a much more diversified approach if you're looking to play this megatrend over the long haul.
KraneShares Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF (KARS)
Smaller ETF shop KraneShares may not be as high profile as other providers, as its offering is a roughly $350 million fund that is substantially smaller than the leading Global X funds. Still, KARS is worth a look because this is an EV ETF where the EV stocks indeed get top billing. Leading the list right now is the iconic Tesla at about 7% of assets, followed by Chinese battery-maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. There are some traditional automakers and semiconductor stocks on the list but there are also newer competitors such as dynamic upstart Nio Inc. (NIO) and lithium giant Albemarle. If you're looking for a more direct play on the EV megatrend, KARS is much more heavily weighted toward the core investments in the space than some other ETFs on this list.
SPDR S&P Kensho Smart Mobility ETF (HAIL)
A smaller fund at roughly $200 million in assets, this "smart-mobility" ETF focuses on EV stocks as well as other emerging transportation technologies. This makes for a strange mix of components, including rental car giant Avis Budget Group Inc. (CAR), which caught fund managers' eyes after it pledged to develop an EV fleet, and industrial firm Aspen Aerogels Inc. (ASPN), which makes insulators and thermal barriers that are components of lithium battery drivetrains. The good news for those after diversification, however, is that this SPDR fund holds about 80 stocks and rebalances regularly to ensure no single position represents too much of the portfolio at any given moment in time. That may help smooth out the volatility that can occur in other EV ETFs.
Amplify Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (BATT)
Though just $250 million in total assets, this Amplify offering has a similar bent to the dominant LIT lithium fund that started the list in that it focuses on EV battery technology. While Tesla does take second place in its top holdings, about a third of assets are in the metals and mining category, showing the focus on lithium over automakers. The mix is a bit more in line with what some investors may hope for in an EV fund, however, with about 20% of assets in automakers and vehicle component companies. It's also less biased toward China, with about 30% of cash in the region versus LIT that has closer to a 45% weighting there. As BATT is the smallest fund on this list, it could offer less efficient day-to-day pricing than larger and more liquid funds.
ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)
The last ETF on this list isn't strictly an EV play, but fund specialist ARK has made a name for itself lately with offerings designed to deliver long-term capital appreciation by investing in "the leaders, enablers and beneficiaries of disruptive innovation." That naturally includes EV technology. Tesla is clearly in that camp and ranks as the top stock in the portfolio at about 10% of assets. Subsequent stocks that clearly have no part in the EV revolution include remote health care player Teladoc Health Inc. (TDOC) and 3D software rendering firm Unity Software Inc. (U). If you want to dabble in EVs as part of a broader play on several innovative trends, then this massive $21 billion ETF could be up your alley. Just remember that this wide net means you may get exposure to other potential risks, too.
Electric vehicle ETFs to buy:
— Global X Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (LIT)
— Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF (DRIV)
— iShares Self-Driving EV and Tech ETF (IDRV)
— KraneShares Electric Vehicles & Future Mobility ETF (KARS)
— SPDR S&P Kensho Smart Mobility ETF (HAIL)
— Amplify Lithium & Battery Technology ETF (BATT)
— ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK)