When Tesla’s first customer-owned Model 3 rolled off the production line late last week, it signaled a new era — one in which mass-produced, fully electric cars can belong to anyone with even a modest budget. Even though Tesla’s the newcomer among the ranks of legacy automobile brands like Ford, General Motors, and GM, it’s taking the industry by storm.
Aside from creating an entirely new category of vehicle and pushing forward perceptions on energy consumption, Tesla has overshadowed century-old auto brands in market capitalization. In the past two years, Tesla has been the only auto brand to see a positive change in market capitalization. In fact, Tesla surpassed the market cap of American brands Ford and General Motors. At $51.6 billion, it towers over Ford’s $44.9 billion in the first quarter of 2017.
Despite soaring market cap and investor confidence, Tesla’s production, sales, and profit numbers aren’t quite keeping up. In the past year, Tesla produced less than 100,000 vehicles. By comparison, Ford produced over 6.5 million and Volkswagen produced nearly 10.5 million. Tesla’s automotive sales also pale in comparison to Ford’s, not even breaking $5 billion per quarter in comparison to Ford’s $35 billion per quarter. Moreover, Tesla has hardly experienced a quarter where it didn’t incur net loss. By comparison, Ford is averaging over $1 billion in profit.
Growing market capitalization despite lackluster production and sales numbers is evidence of the company’s incredible success with investors and the result of strong branding and excitement around new technology. Tesla’s new Model 3 and the company’s underdog narrative has the media buzzing, which has made it possible for Tesla to spend $0 on traditional advertising.
Production for the Model 3 is expected reach 5,000 per week by the end of the 2017, and customers will begin seeing vehicle deliveries by mid-2018. Tesla reported that it received over 400,000 orders so far, and will no doubt see more as the Model 3 finds its way onto the road.