LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc.'s market value exceeded $20 billion for part of the day as investors remain optimistic that Elon Musk can keep widening the appeal of electric-powered cars.
The shares earlier in the day soared to a record $173 before closing at $164.23 in afternoon trading, up 1.5 percent for the day. Shares of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, which had its initial public offering just three years ago, have surged about fivefold this year.
Tesla intends to deliver 21,000 units of its flagship Model S electric sedans this year and double that in 2014. CEO Musk, 42, has said demand for the car, priced from about $70,000, currently outstrips Tesla's ability to make it.
"Tesla's the Apple of automotive -- it's managed to cross the automotive and technology fields to become this hot commodity," said Alan Baum, an independent auto analyst at Baum & Associates in suburban Detroit. "Justified or not, the expectations for this company are now very high."
By sales and production volume, Tesla ranks among the smallest of international automakers.
General Motors Co., the biggest U.S. automaker by sales, has a $49 billion market capitalization. Ford's market value of $65 billion is the largest among U.S.-based carmakers.
Tesla's Model S was named 2013 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine; Consumer Reports in a May review rated it among the best it's ever tested; and this month the company said the model received top crash and safety ratings in tests by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The company made a secondary public share sale in May, after posting its first quarterly profit, excluding some items. That helped Tesla raise more than $1 billion to fund product development and pay off a U.S. Energy Department loan nine years early.