Tesla is fast becoming the main challenger to General Motors in the American auto market, with impressive sales figures released on Sunday spurring a surge of investor excitement in the company on Monday’s stock market.
On Sunday Tesla reported a new delivery record for the first quarter of 2017, sending more than 25,000 Model S and Model X cars out onto the streets – a 69 per cent increase on the same time last year.
Production also hit a new record, with 25,418 cars rolling off production lines in the first three months of 2017.
Despite Tesla warning in its trading update that vehicle deliveries “should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results”, the company’s market value surged on Monday following the news.
By the end of trading on Monday Tesla’s market value had hit $48.7bn, overtaking Ford which was valued at $45.7bn, according to Bloomberg figures reported by The New York Times. General Motors was the only auto firm valued higher, at $51.2bn.
The increase in market cap is despite Tesla producing far fewer cars last year than Ford – 76,000 deliveries compared to Ford’s global sales of 6.6 million. Analysts suggest Tesla’s real test of whether it can rival the traditional car giants in terms of scale will come with the launch later this year of the Model 3, its first mass market electric car.
Tesla’s rise may have been helped by the sluggish performance of incumbent automakers. Figures released on Monday revealed sales of light vehicle in the US last month were well below expectations, falling 1.5 per cent from last year to 3.93 million. March is usually a bumper month for vehicle sales, so a poor showing is likely to fuel investor fears of a wider malaise in the market that could continue through the year.