It helped Tesla that China rebounded from its coronavirus outbreak much faster than the United States, where auto sales have been slowed significantly by the pandemic.
Tesla’s stock price was up about 8 percent on the news. The stock, which was trading at more than $1,200 on Thursday, has soared in recent months, and has been setting new highs this week. In May 2019, the stock was trading around $200, and one Wall Street analyst who had long been enthusiastic about Tesla, Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley, warned that the price could tumble to $10 if the company’s strategies didn’t pan out.
At its current price, Tesla has a market value of nearly $210 billion. That’s more than the value of Toyota Motor, which was previously the world’s most valuable automaker, and three and a half times the combined value of G.M. and Ford.
Traditional automakers sell more cars and earn much more profit than Tesla, which still has not reported a full year of profit since its founding in 2003. Still, Wall Street has grown increasingly optimistic. Some investors consider Tesla to be at the vanguard of the transition from petroleum-fueled cars and trucks to electric vehicles — a change that they believe older companies like Toyota, G.M. and Ford are ill prepared for.
Fans of Tesla frequently compare it to Amazon, which generated little profit for years as it spent heavily to fuel rapid expansion that has put it leagues ahead of most traditional retailers in online commerce and logistics. Amazon, Tesla’s fans point out, is now valued at more than $1 trillion while many conventional retailers are struggling or have sought bankruptcy protection.
Tesla has also seemed to overcome problems that hobbled its ability to bring new cars to market and scale up manufacturing. In addition to opening the Shanghai factory, the company has started building a third auto plant, near Berlin. It also started delivering the Model Y, a sport utility vehicle that is expected to sell well because it starts at about $53,000, roughly what comparable luxury gasoline vehicles sell for.
Further, rival luxury carmakers that were expected to provide stiff competition to Tesla with their own electric offerings have for the most part failed to gain traction. Audi sold just 1,700 its E-tron electric S.U.V. in the United States in the first quarter, before the pandemic took hold.