Tesla blows past Toyota to become most valuable automaker in the world

In 10 years, Tesla has gone from public market newbie to the most valuable automaker in the world by market value. The electric automaker had long since passed the valuations of Ford and GM, and in January became the most valuable U.S. automaker ever when its market cap hit $81.39 billion.

Still, a few automakers remained ahead of Tesla. Until today. Tesla shares popped Wednesday after the market opened, rising nearly 4% to $1,129.18 — hitting a new 52-week high. The company’s market capitalization now stands at nearly $208 billion, surpassing Toyota to become the world’s most valuable automaker by market value. Toyota’s market cap is $202.74 billion.

The automaker’s stock price has confounded some analysts as it continued to rise and fall and then rise, rise, rise again despite a series of controversies and setbacks. Tesla’s new status as the most valuable automaker in the world doesn’t match up with its global volume, but that hasn’t dampened investor spirits. Tesla has certainly accelerated production and deliveries. Tesla delivered 367,500 electric vehicles in 2019 — 50% more than the previous year — a record-breaking figure largely supported by sales of the cheaper Model 3.

Toyota produces 10 million vehicles annually.

Tesla has escaped the rules that investors have applied to traditional automakers. The company is viewed more as a tech company than an automaker. Analysts’ forecasts often focus as much on CEO Elon Musk’s promises on future products that might never materialize as they do on the more pedestrian quarterly figures such as delivery and production numbers and revenue.

Tesla’s share price also appears immune to the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the rest of the automotive industry. While even Tesla has experienced COVID-19-related slowdowns, as well as temporary suspension of production, investors have continued to buy in and push the share price higher.

Tesla’s share price could rise again if its second-quarter delivery and production figures, which should be reported today or Thursday, meet or surpass analysts expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet expect sales of 72,000 vehicles in the second quarter.