Tesla tops Toyota as world’s most valuable transportation company

Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) climbed over Toyota Motor Corp. Corp. (NYSE: TM) as the world’s most valuable transportation company on Wednesday, July 1 as pre-orders for its angular Cybertruck exceeded the past two years’ deliveries of its electric vehicles.

Wedbush Securities reported 650,000 Cybertruck orders as of June 22, surpassing the 612,120 deliveries of Tesla’s Model S, X and 3 in 2018 and 2019, according to the weekly financial digest Finbold.

The current number of Tesla Cybertruck orders, if they become firm, would eclipse all the electric vehicles Tesla delivered in 2018 and 2019. (Chart: Finbold)

Tesla is the industry’s leading battery-electric vehicle maker, with both the Cybertruck pickup and the battery-powered Class 8 Tesla Semi currently planned for production in 2021 after being delayed three times.

Shares surging

Tesla shares have more than doubled since the start of the year. They climbed as much as 4% in intraday trading Wednesday, reaching a market capitalization of $208.3 billion, surpassing Toyota’s $194.5 billion.

The 17-year-old company surpassed Volkswagen AG as the second most-valuable automaker in January. It’s now worth more than twice the German car and truck giant.

Measured by market share, Tesla is still a bit player in the U.S., accounting for just 1.32% of all vehicles sold. But that speaks more to the slow adoption of electric vehicles than to Tesla’s popularity, especially among well-heeled buyers who can afford its cars and crossover that retail from the low $40,000s to well over $100,000.

Tesla produced 103,000 vehicles in the first quarter, or about 4% of the almost 2.4 million made by Toyota, the Japanese company that pioneered lean manufacturing techniques in the same Fremont, California, plant where Teslas are assembled today.

Across-the-board price cuts in late May suggest U.S. demand issues, offset by growing demand in China, according to Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne, who has a $300 price target on Tesla stock. He raised his second-quarter delivery target to 84,000 from 70,000.

Toyota’s troubles

Toyota has forecast an 80% decline in profit this year and expects it could take until the first half of 2021 before the auto market recovers to pre-pandemic levels. Toyota only recently began investing in battery-electric vehicles, favoring hydrogen-power fuel cell electrics as a long-term solution to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. 

Toyota is partnering with Kenworth Truck Co., a unit of PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR), on a fleet of 10 Class 8 heavy-duty trucks for testing in climate-conscious California. It is working on a similar program in Japan with its subsidiary Hino Trucks.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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