Among the biggest surprises of the past decade was the initial public offering of the Palo Alto company that outperformed every automaker from Detroit to Toyota City to Wolfsburg and is now the undisputed champion of total return, sales growth and long-term shareholder value.
That would be 10-year-old Tesla and its zero-emission, battery electric Model S, X and 3.
Co-founder Elon Musk may be the most-ridiculed and penalized CEO since the Securities and Exchange Commission made him pay a $20 million fine for misleading tweets last year. His antics obscure the essential reality that Tesla is gaining confidence among customers and investors because they hold the fossil-free future in their hands, and find it more thrilling and profitable than the latest iteration of hydrocarbon.
The Model 3 now outsells every vehicle from Germany or Japan in the U.S. entry luxury category, and Musk last month said his company had received more than 200,000 pre-orders three days after unveiling the Cybertruck.
Such assurance is the constant element driving Tesla to a record $419 a share this week, or a $75.6 billion valuation that is greater than all but Toyota ($231 billion) and Volkswagen ($97 billion) among 38 automakers across the globe. Tesla is worth 44 percent more than General Motors and is almost twice the value of Ford Motor Co. ($37 billion) because nothing gets stock pickers more excited than unprecedented growth. Since the first Model S was purchased in 2012, Tesla sales have increased 52 times while the rest of the industry has averaged 46 percent.