Fremont / Wolfsburg (dpa) - The hype around the e-car pioneer Tesla has always been great - but what is currently happening to the company of the dazzling tech billionaire Elon Musk is unparalleled.
Since the end of June, the company's stock market value has skyrocketed by more than $ 85 billion to just over $ 286 billion recently.
This makes Tesla by far the most traded automaker in the world. For comparison: the three largest US rivals in terms of sales and production, General Motors (GM), Ford and Fiat Chrysler, make up just under $ 80 billion - combined. And the German trio Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW are also miles away.
It is a triumph for Musk. The 49-year-old star entrepreneur, who also runs the rocket company SpaceX and many other projects, has exceeded all expectations with Tesla. A year ago he was still struggling with deep red numbers, funds were scarce, and doubts about the future of Tesla were great. Then the e-carmaker turned up: three quarters of black numbers in series. Suddenly, the previously chronically lossy group seems profitable and takes off on the stock exchange.
While the global car market is being slowed down by the Corona crisis, Tesla is spreading in the mass market. In the second quarter, Musk's company got rid of a lot more cars than expected. Unlike the competition, which struggles with closed car dealerships and customers who are stuck at home, Tesla relies on online sales and, due to the numerous pre-orders, hardly comes up with production and delivery.
Fan articles out of stock in the online shop
Musk is enjoying his success to the fullest. On Twitter, where 36.7 million accounts follow him, he mocks investors who dare to speculate against him. He brought out “Tesla Short Shorts” to take “shortsellers”, who bet on price losses, on the shovel: The short satin pants with a golden company logo were available in a limited edition in the online shop - and despite a proud price of 69.42 Dollar immediately sold out. "Damn it, we broke the website!" He tweeted in view of the large crowd.
Why is a company that has so far hardly made any money and produces relatively small quantities worth more than all the major German and US automakers combined? Financial market expectations are a game with the future, they do not have to reflect the actual substance of a company. The Tesla hype also shows how uncoupled trading can be from the real economic fundamentals.
Software architectures are actually valuable
But the voices of those who believe that Tesla's lead, especially in software and digitization, can be difficult to catch up with are increasing. "The core competence that makes Tesla so valuable lies less in the field of e-mobility," said the CEO of Continental's second largest automotive supplier, Elmar Degenhart, the German Press Agency. The decisive factor in the assessment was rather the know-how of new «electronic architectures, their programming, wireless updates, the associated security requirements and the networking of the car with the cloud».
Volume suppliers like VW, where both the new Golf and the electric hope ID.3 are struggling with problems, find it particularly difficult. VW software boss Christian Senger is supposed to hand over the management of the IT organization that has just started day-to-day business, according to company circles. The "Handelsblatt" had reported about it. However, it should continue as far as possible elsewhere in the group.
Degenhart emphasized that one should bear in mind that Tesla does not have to offer nearly similar model numbers and was founded “on the green field”. In fact, Musk has so far hardly made any bulk. Toyota delivered 398 029 new cars in the US in the most recent quarter, more than Tesla worldwide in the past year.
"Better than the competition"
Nevertheless: The well-known market leaders have to hurry up if they don't want to get under the wheel soon. NordLB car industry expert Frank Schwope believes: "Tesla production is developing better than the competition." Despite corona-related setbacks, Musk ramped up production in China, the world's largest car market. And in Grünheide near Berlin, Tesla is investing more than one billion euros in its first European factory. Production is scheduled to start in a year. A small electric car could also be built in the Berlin development and design center, as Musk indicated on Twitter.
The industry as a whole is facing dark months. "We assume that car production and sales in 2020 will drop by 15 to 25 percent worldwide compared to 2019," said Schwope. The German industry association VDA also assumes similar values. "By contrast, Tesla could increase deliveries against the trend by around 20 to 35 percent," suspects the NordLB analyst. Musk is likely to emerge as a winner from the virus crisis in the medium term.
Because regardless of the pandemic, the auto industry cannot avoid a fundamental change in direction towards e-mobility and digitalization. Tesla has decisive advantages here. After the Germans were considered too hesitant for a long time, VW chief Herbert Diess, for example, will now spend at least 33 billion euros for future technologies in his group by 2024 - including a battery cell plant and its own software division. According to reports, Volkswagen could also design a “Tesla fighter” for its subsidiary Audi in the next few years.
Catching up to dizzy heights?
BMW also wants to put a tooth on it. After much respect for their early e-cars i3 and i8, the Munich people were accused of not making up their minds enough. The much-vaunted ramp-up is expected to succeed, among other things, with a new battery and electric motor factory in Lower Bavaria. "As early as 2022, we will be able to manufacture electric drives for over half a million electrified vehicles a year in Dingolfing alone," said CEO Oliver Zipse. BMW also wants to make up ground with the E-Coupé i4 and the E-SUV iNext.
In many ways, the Americans still seem to be ahead in many ways. Musk also has a lot in the pipeline with the already available compact SUV Model Y, the pick-up Cybertruck and the semi-trailer semi. Construction of a second US auto plant could begin in the summer. Nevertheless, the extreme price rally makes some observers dizzy. Schwope: "In our opinion, the company is significantly overestimated."
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