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What Advisors Should Know About Automobile Buying and Investing

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What Advisors Should Know About Automobile Buying and Investing

Although it is definitely a first-world problem, many Americans suffer from having to make complicated choices all day long. In a world where a person can choose from 20 different flavors of coffee in the morning, not to mention the size of the cup or the additional ingredients to add, the exercise of choosing has actually been proven to be exhausting and can create anxiety.

For decades, automobile manufacturers have produced multiple models of their vehicles, offering choices for vehicle buyers beyond just the company they wish to buy from. Today, the choices have become even more numerous, as many carmakers are providing both electric and internal-combustion engine cars. Like with many other products, consumers now have to answer the “gas or electric” question when they want to buy an automobile.

Investors love to invest in automobile manufacturers. While considerable conversation takes place over the elimination of cars that run on gas through an internal combustion engine, cars themselves aren’t going away.

As part of its monthly research with affluent investors, Spectrem each month adds hot topics questions that go beyond the range of its normal investigations of investor attitudes and behaviors. In October, investors were asked “if you were required to invest in an automobile maker, which would you prefer to invest in?” Investors were given two choices, a company that concentrates on electric cars or a company that concentrates on internal combustion engine cars.

The overall response was almost evenly split: 51 percent investing in the electric car company and 49 percent in internal combustion engine cars. When investors were segmented by age, the divide grew, with younger investors leaning toward the electric car companies and the older investors leaning toward manufacturers creating cars that run on gas.

That is interesting news for advisors. The market for investing in automobile makers is now evenly split, and advisors need to understand the motivation of investors who lean one way or the other regarding automobile makers.

But Spectrem followed that question with a more personal one for investors: “How would you describe your intentions for you next automobile purchase?” This is where cars running on gas maintain their hold on the market, as 54 percent of investors said they would lean slightly or strongly toward buying an internal combustion engine vehicle.

Even when the investors were again segmented by age, the internal combustion engine won out. Forty-six percent of Millennials planned to buy an internal combustion engine vehicle, while only 26 percent of Millennials intended to buy an electric car. Twenty-five percent split the difference and indicated intentions to buy a hybrid vehicle.

What this means for the future of automobile manufacturing and sales is uncertain, but while electric car manufacturers may be attractive to investors, the cars themselves may not be ready to take over the marketplace.

Related: Why You Must Discuss the Election With Your Clients

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