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Tesla now has the highest valuation of any American car company

Tesla Model 3
Tesla, the only major all-electric car company in the U.S., is now worth more than either Ford or General Motors, CNN Money reports.

This is based on the market value of their respective stocks. On Monday, April 10, 2017, Tesla was valued at $50.84 billion, surpassing GM’s $50.79 billion. Tesla passed Ford’s $45 billion last week. Honda is next on the list, currently worth $54 billion. When and if Tesla passes Honda, that would leave only Toyota as the world’s most valuable car maker, CNN Money says. Surpassing Toyota will be a long pull. Toyota’s 1.494 billion shares are worth a bit north of $158 billion, more than three times Tesla’s current value.

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It might seem odd that Tesla, with roughly 25,000 first-quarter vehicle sales, is worth more than Ford and GM, whose first-quarter sales in the U.S. were about 617,000 and 690,000, respectively. And Tesla loses money, notes CNN Money. The company’s high market capitalization (a straight calculation of the total number of shares and the previous day’s closing price) reflects that fact that the market treats Tesla differently from the way it treats conventional car companies.

“They’re classified as a tech company,” Blue Book executive analyst Rebecca Lindland told CNN Money, “so they’re not really held to the same standards. Tesla is treated differently than established car companies like Ford and GM. Tesla kind of gets a free pass,” on profitability and other conventional criteria that apply to established companies.

And more obviously, Tesla gets tech points for its pursuit of electric autonomous cars. “When we think about the future of mobility, they’re very well-positioned,” Lindland said.

It’s safe to figure that the 370,000-plus people who registered to buy Telsa’s Model 3  middle market car, which is being offered by Tesla for $35,000, count heavily in analysts’ Tesla valuations. Time will tell if the market’s expectations for the company are borne out.

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