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Boom or bust?

9 months ago

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Writer:

Ben Oliver | Journalist

Date:

12 September 2023

Never invest in something you don’t understand, runs the old adage. But is the opposite also true? Should you invest in what you love? If you’re a Ti subscriber you plainly love cars. You’ve probably been following the car industry for almost as long as you’ve been able to read, and longer than many of its professional analysts. Instinct and experience mean you can likely tell a good car from a duffer as soon as it’s launched. You probably have a view on how most of the big players are doing on design, dynamics, electrification and brand image, and when you read about new EV start-ups you get an immediate sense for whether they’re the next Tesla or just more vapourware.

So should you be using those years of unpaid and enthusiastic research to buy not just cars, but shares in car companies? Maybe: but first let’s insert the standard caveat that what follows does not constitute investment advice. That’s doubly true here, because a motoring journalist is the very last person from whom you should take such advice. If we had any financial savvy we’d have quit this trade in our twenties, got proper jobs and now been able to afford the kinds of cars we can only write about. Our co-founder Andrew Frankel did it the other way around: he is proud to have been the only commodity broker unable to make anyone any money in The City in the late 1980s, and he left to drive other people’s Porsches and Ferraris at Autocar instead.

My own history is one of missed opportunities. I started talking to Elon Musk back when I still had to explain who he was to editors. Yet when Tesla made its IPO in 2010, four years after I’d started reporting on the company, I thought it was overpriced at $17 and sat on my hands. You don’t need to be Warren Buffett to rate that investment decision.

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