Tesla and GM running neck-and-neck to be the most highly valued automaker in America

July 13, 2017

April 2017 was such a simpler time. Philanderer Robert Bentley was moving out of the Alabama governor's mansion. Freshly approved Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch was moving into his new digs. And supermodels everywhere believed that Fyre Festival would be a glorious frolic in the sun instead of the laughable crapshow for beautiful people that it was.

April was also when Tesla became the most highly valued U.S. automaker. Last week, Tesla stumbled, and General Motors regained its title as king of the car heap. However, Tesla has recovered and is once again within sight of the summit.

Despite a number of news items detailing Tesla's toxic work culture, the automaker has been riding high this year. Much of its momentum stems from waves of excitement about Tesla's new, cheaper Model 3, which began rolling off the assembly line last week

That enthusiasm has helped push Tesla's total value into the stratosphere, despite warnings from Goldman Sachs analyst David Tamberrino, who downgraded his rating for Tesla stock to "sell". In early April, Tesla's total value soared to $51 billion, nearly $2 billion higher than GM's. 

Last week, however, Tesla had some unpleasant news for investors. Most importantly, the company revealed that it was facing a "severe" shortage of battery packs for new vehicles. Given the impending arrival of the Model 3, that dimmed Tesla's outlook, and its stock price plummeted. 

This week, however, Tesla has bounced back. On Monday, shares dipped below $304, but as of today, they're up to nearly $330. The company's total value is now $54.4 billion. 

Interestingly, GM's prices are also on an upswing, currently hovering near $36. That brings its total capitalization to $54.5 billion. You could cut the tension with a knife.

Will Tesla prevail? That depends in large part on timely deliveries of the Model 3 and how well CEO Elon Musk is able to keep investors amped up. The company has never had a net profit, and its sales are minuscule compared to those of GM and other established automakers. Heck, even Musk himself admitted that Tesla's valuation is higher than it ought to be.

But that hasn't bothered investors, who see Tesla as the Apple of the auto world: a forward-thinking tech firm led by a charismatic CEO who's going to change the way the world thinks about cars. Though GM has many great traits, it can't fully compete with that. 

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