Tesla Passes GM to Become America's Most Valuable Car Company

On paper, at least. 

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The last dam has fallen. On Monday morning, Tesla's value surpassed General Motors for the very first time, making the Silicon Valley electric car company the most valuable automaker in America.

At least, on paper. 

Tesla shares were at $310 apiece as of 12:15pm on Monday, up around 2.5 percent since the beginning of the trading day. That puts the carmaker's total market capitalization at roughly $51 billion. GM, on the other hand, was at just a share over $50 billion. 

Just last week, Tesla pushed past Ford's market capitalization in order to take the number two spot amongst American automakers. But even today's move still puts it far below the highest-ranked automakers, in terms of market cap; Toyota, which sits atop the charts, has a paper value of a stunning $172 billion.

Still, Honda, at a market cap of $52 billion, lies within striking distance for Tesla within the next few days, if the stock continues to trend upwards.

Tesla's sky-high value comes in spite of the fact that the carmaker produced just 76,000 cars last year (GM, in contrast, sold 9.8 million cars in 2015), and is yet to turn a profit. Still, investors seem to largely view the electric car company as a hot tech stock, not a reliable blue-chip the way automakers have been traditionally seen. 

“Right now there is nothing to slow Tesla’s momentum. They could pass Honda, too,” Morningstar Inc. analyst David Whiston told Bloomberg. “The market cares more about the potential new market value of the other businesses Tesla is in than about real profits and cash flow.”

Oh, and one side note: That $51 billion valuation for Tesla means Elon Musk's personal fortune now stands at $15.1 billion, according to Forbes's real-time billionaire rankings. Which puts his rank among the world's richest men and women at...

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