I’ve fallen in head-over-heels in love once again.
And no, my wife has nothing to worry about. It’s not a younger woman or anything like that.
Instead, it’s a 321-horsepower V-6 beast of a car that handles like a dream but is also very economical to drive.
Then again, this is a three-motor hybrid model equipped with a seven-speed automatic transmission that you shift from the steering wheel when in sport mode.
That’s not all – not by a long shot. See, my new 2019 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid excels at semiautonomous driving.
My Personal Test Drive of This Tech
I can’t say enough good things about my new ride.
It has just about every feature you can imagine, from a state-of-the art infotainment system that integrates to Apple Car Play to surround-view cameras to a four-way tunable suspension system.
Our salesman, Nico, knew the car cold, and convinced me to go semiautonomous in city traffic, kicking in the low-speed system.
I was blown away.
My new MDX handles city traffic with aplomb, coming to a complete stop behind the vehicle in front of it – and at a safe distance.
It was a paradigm-shifting experience. Two days after taking delivery, I drove the MDX from the Bay Area to Sacramento and back. I let the vehicle control the brakes almost 100% of the time, finding that the system can handle everything from following at 75 miles an hour to bumper-to-bumper traffic, shifting between the two with finesse.
No wonder this market is about to break out in a big way…
Tesla, Google Are Already There
Tesla Corp. (Nasdaq: TSLA) offers Autopilot for its vehicles. CEO Elon Musk says that, despite his company’s low production volume, these models are set to change how we interact with our cars.
Waymo, a division of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL), has already put 10 million miles on self-drivers. It’s set to roll out an autonomous, ride-hailing fleet of cars in Phoenix later this year.
And based on the way my new MDX operates, I’m convinced the future belongs to autonomous driving.
Or, to be more accurate, a blend of self-driving and semiautonomy.
For at least the next decade, drivers will clearly want and often need to control their cars for at least part of the trip.
However, there’s no doubt that the broad category of driverless vehicles is set to become huge.
Analysts say that in the next few years nearly every one of the 70 million cars produced around the world each year will have strong self-driving features like collision avoidance, self-braking, lane-departure control, and adaptive cruising.
Allied Market Research says the global market for autonomous vehicles will be worth $54.2 billion next year. Just seven years out, that figure will increase to $556.6 billion.
That’s 40% yearly growth.
Just try to find that outside of the likes of legal marijuana.
In other words, this is a market where savvy investors stand to reap rich rewards.
Driving Tech’s Fast Lane
Nvidia Corp. (Nasdaq: NVDA) stands out as one of the great backend plays in this red-hot market.
Just think, it was only three years ago that Wall Street thought of this Silicon Valley leader as mainly a maker of graphics cards for video-game consoles.
In recent years, a massive team of engineers have been building and refining the Nvidia Drive AGX platform. It’s a scalable, open-computing platform that serves as the brain for autonomous vehicles.
Of course, Nvidia has no plans to become an automaker. Instead, it’s working with some of the auto industry’s leading firms and giving them access to a wide array of advanced tech tools.
Once they sign up, these partners get a full-stack solution that features libraries, tool kits, frameworks, source packages, and software compilers. The entire package can underpin a fully autonomous driving experience.
Nvidia isn’t working on its own here. It has brought in advanced mapping software, sensor suppliers, research shops, and more to ensure that the entire Drive AGX platform is second to none, across the board.
Volkswagen AG (OTC: VLKAF), one of the world’s largest automakers, is making a double-barrel push into both electric vehicles and self-driving cars over the next few years. And VW plans to outsource all of its autonomous driving work to Nvidia to get to market much more quickly.
Other automakers, such as Audi AG (OTC: AUDVF), Volvo AB (OTC: VLVLY), and Tesla, are also in late-stage connected car development with Nvidia.
You’ll also find truck makers like PACCAR Inc. (Nasdaq: PCAR) and logistics firms like Deutsche Post AG (OTC: DPSGY) deploying the Nvidia Drive AGX platform
Nvidia’s tech is also playing a key role in dashboards. Daimler AG (OTC: DDAIF), for example, has already rolled out an Nvidia-powered AI cockpit in some of its Mercedes-Benz autos.
It’s part of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – or “MBUX” – infotainment system. The platform uses real-time 3D graphics and AI powered by Nvidia.
Much More Down the Line
The firm’s work with Mercedes brings up another key point. Nvidia is also pushing the boundaries of exciting new markets like AI, virtual reality, and machine learning.
That means it is attacking other fields with lots of growth ahead. Analysts say those three sectors will be worth a combined $268.2 billion by 2025.
Nvidia is doing so to ensure its advanced lines of chips, software, and systems see robust demand, even in the early stages of the major new tech fields.
For proof of that, just glance at its recent financial results. Sales have shot up from $5 billion in 2016 to nearly $10 billion last year. And by next year, Nvidia will be approaching $15 billion in sales.
Equally impressive, profits are poised to rise 52% this year – and to keep rising at a rapid clip.
Nvidia, in other words, hasn’t even hit its stride yet.
Plus, it’s in the driver’s seat with so many tech trends.
Shares are now trading at $215 as I type. And based on the company’s earnings growth – and all the innovative fields it’s just beginning to get into – I think that could reach $400 in just 12 months.
That’s an 86% one-year gain – and it leaves whatever the S&P 500 is going to do in the dust.