Tesla Motors overtook top US automaker General Motors in market capitalisation following an upbeat report by an investment analyst citing the electric carmaker's "captivating" ability to stir investor and consumer enthusiasm.
"More so than any stock we've covered, Tesla engenders optimism, freedom, defiance, and a host of other emotions that, in our view, other companies cannot replicate," Piper Jaffray said in a report moving Tesla to "overweight" in their recommendation.
"As they scramble to catch up, we think Tesla's competitors only make themselves appear more desperate," the report said. Tesla's share price surge came on the heels of that positive analyst comment, but the landmark crossed today concerns stock valuation. The story for revenue and the real-world auto footprint is very different. Tesla last year sold 84,000 cars, generating USD 7 billion in revenue. General Motors, in contrast, sold 10 million cars and took in USD 166 billion in revenues. But Tesla is benefiting from the increasingly widely held view on Wall Street that it has a better grip on a future in which Silicon Valley could be at least as big a player as Detroit in the US auto market, as electric cars and autonomous driving play a growing role.
Tesla, which last week overtook Ford in market capitalisation, is on track to begin production in July of the Model 3, which is aimed at the middle market, making the car accessible to a broader swath of consumers.
Tesla already has orders for more than 400,000 of the Model 3, priced at USD 35,000, and has said it will reach production of 500,000 by 2018, a pace many analysts are sceptical it will reach.