Warren Buffett said this weekend that he admires Tesla CEO Elon Musk. And the Berkshire Hathaway CEO believes electric vehicles will bring big changes to the auto market. But he doubts any carmaker will be able to hold a dominant position.
“You will see a change in the vehicles, but you won’t see anybody that owns the market because they changed the vehicle,” Buffett said this weekend at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual conference. The investing legend and his partner, vice chairman Charlie Munger, shared their thoughts on EVs and the auto industry in general during a Q&A session.
“The electric vehicle is coming big time, and that’s a very interesting development,” said Munger. But, he added, “at the moment, it’s imposing huge capital costs and huge risks—and I don’t like huge capital costs and huge risks.”
“Charlie and I for long have felt that the auto industry is just too tough,” Buffett said. “It’s just a business where you’ve got a lot of worldwide competitors, they’re not going to go away. And it looks like there are winners at any given time, but it doesn’t get you a permanent place.”
“I think I know where Apple’s going to be in 5 or 10 years,” Buffett added, but “I don’t know what the car companies are going to be in 5 or 10 years.”
The Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate includes all kinds of companies—the Duracell, Dairy Queen, and Fruit of the Loom brands are under its umbrella—but Buffett and Munger have never been especially enthusiastic about carmakers. It does own General Motors shares and one of the largest car dealers in the U.S., Berkshire Hathaway Automotive.
And in China, Berkshire Hathaway has invested in Tesla rival BYD. Earlier this year, Munger said it’s “almost ridiculous” how much BYD was beating Tesla in China, and he called BYD his best investment at Berkshire Hathaway. Musk has unleashed a price war in China.
Musk has also slashed Tesla prices in the U.S.,…