Is owning a car really worth it?
Sure, cars are great. They get you from Point A to Point B, and allow you the flexibility to travel when you want, where you want, and how you want.
From that perspective, owning a car is absolutely worth it.
But there’s a flipside to this coin.
Owning a car is expensive. You have to often find enough money for a down payment, secure a loan for the balance, and pay off that loan through monthly payments, or pay for the car outright in cash. Either way, that’s a lot of change out of your pocket.
Then, after that initial payment, you have to cover maintenance expenses like brakes and oil, pay for insurance, pay DMV fees, so on and so forth.
Add it all up, and the average annual cost of car ownership is about $9,000 per year.
That’s pretty steep.
And it looks even steeper when you consider what most of us use our car for — about 50% of car trips are single-passenger trips that are less than three miles, i.e., trips that are “walkable” or “bikeable”.
From that perspective, owning a car seems not worth it.
But… before you go screaming “Car Apocalypse” to everyone in your neighborhood, first consider that this is not a new problem.
That is, the discrepancy between the cost of car ownership and usage of said car has been around for ages — and we’ve filled this gap by creating “community transportation” networks to supplement vehicle ownership.
The Generation 1.0 solution to community transportation was public transit. City busses. Trams. Subways.
But public transit is notoriously bad, with the average wait time for public transportation clocking in at a whopping 40 minutes per day. It’s also not very safe or clean, and oftentimes doesn’t make for a pleasurable trip experience.
These shortcomings were addressed by the Generation 2.0 solution, which was ride-sharing. For a while, ride-sharing worked great. It provided a cost-effective, hyper-convenient, and on-demand way for consumers to get around anywhere without owning a car.
Indeed, during the “boom” of ride-sharing from 2010 to 2019, car ownership rates in America declined for the first time since 1950 as a third of Americans flocked to using Uber and Lyft regularly.
But rising fare prices, long wait-times, and Covid-19 have highlighted shortcomings of the ride-sharing model. These challenges have proven that the Generation 2.0 solution to community transportation is not the final solution.
So… as it always does… the world has invented a new Generation 3.0 solution called “micromobility”.
The micromobility market broadly includes smaller, cheaper, often single-person electric transportation vehicles like bikes, scooters, mopeds, and the like. These mobility solutions optimize the advantages of ride-sharing (which includes giving individuals a cost-effective way to travel) while addressing ride-sharing’s shortcomings (which is that consumers aren’t subject to rising fare prices or driver schedules, and don’t have to share their “air space” with anyone else).
Micromobility is a win-win community transit solution.
Accordingly, the micromobility market has been on fire.
Back in 2010, micromobility was a relatively new concept in the U.S. There were a few e-sooters and bikes in a handful of cities that racked up 321,000 total trips.
But… in the decade since then… this niche concept has gone mainstream, and the whole market has staged jaw-dropping growth.
Total micromobility trips in the U.S. in 2019 measured 136 million — up an enormous 42,268%.
Can you name another market that has grown by more than 40,000% since 2010?
Probably not… and guess what?
That’s because combined ridership of America’s five busiest rapid transit systems — New York City Subway, Washington Metro, Chicago “L”, MBTA Subway, and Bay Area Rapid Transit — measured nearly 3.5 BILLION passenger trips in 2019.
That’s nearly 30X the number of shared micromobility trips nationally in 2019.
Clearly, there’s still a lot of room for micromobility solutions to expand their presence, grow their ridership, and sustain their hypergrowth trajectory for a lot longer.
To that end, I see micromobility emerging as the next globally dominant evolution of public transit and ridesharing.
This transition started in the mid-2010s. It’s accelerating now because of Covid-19 and expensive Uber trips. It will only continue to accelerate over the next few years as more and more e-scooters and bikes show up in more and more cities.
Indeed, if you go over to crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo, some of the most funded projects on those sites these days are e-bike projects.
That’s not a coincidence — consumers want great micromobility solutions, and are willing to put their money down to help companies create better micromobility solutions.
Needless to say, then, the time to invest in the emerging micromobility megatrend is right now.
What are the best investments in this space?
I have two top picks.
The first is a Chinese e-scooter company by the name of NIU Technologies (NASDAQ:NIU).
Dubbed the “Apple of Scooters” by Electrek, this e-scooter maker was founded in 2015 on the premise of delivering sleek, high-performance, and high-tech e-scooters to consumers in China — a market which, due to relatively low income per capita and relatively high urban density, is ripe for micromobility disruption.
The company has executed with enormous success against this goal. Full-year 2020 deliveries clocked in at over 600,000, up about 43% year-over-year, on top of 24% growth in the previous year.
And growth isn’t slowing. Last quarter — the second quarter of 2021 — NIU reported 58% volume growth.
I think there’s a lot more runway left for NIU to sustain 20%-plus volume growth for the next several years, and for this $2.5 billion company to turn into a $10+ billion micromobility giant.
The other pick is Piaggio (OTCMKTS:PIAGF) — the $1.4 billion Italian e-scooter maker behind Vespa scooters. The bull thesis here is that Piaggio has cemented itself as a micromobility leader with multiple brands and products, and therefore, is broadly well-positioned to reap the rewards of booming micromobility demand in coming years.
So… if you’re bullish on the micromobility megatrend… then it’s probably best to take a good hard look at Piaggio and NIU Technologies.
Those two stocks could secure investors triple-digit gains in the coming years.
On the date of publication, Luke Lango did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.