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Is Tesla Motors really worth almost half the value of GM?

Above: Elon Musk watches robots at the Tesla Motors plant (formerly NUMMI Plant).

Discussions of Tesla Motors sometimes seem couched in the terms of a religious tale: Tesla as David versus General Motors in the Goliath role.

One company is the plucky Silicon Valley electric-car startup that’s never built a vehicle with a gasoline engine.

The other is the largest U.S. automaker, one of the three largest car companies in the world, the slayer of the EV1 (and then-parent of the Chevy Volt).

What brings the comparison to mind is a recent juxtaposition of the two companies’ valuations.

At the close of the market on September 26, 2013, General Motors had a market capitalization of $54.8 billion.

Tesla’s was $22,9 billion, or 42 percent of the larger company’s.

MORE: Five Facts About Tesla And Electric Cars That May Surprise You

GM has built more than 450 million cars over its 105-year life; Tesla is closing in on 25,000 over 10 years.

General Motors Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan

Many electric-car advocates view GM as an arch-villain that crushed all but a handful of 1,400 advanced EV1 two-seat electric cars — then got religion late by launching the Volt range-extended electric car less than a decade later.

On the other hand, some market analysts consider Tesla to be an overhyped company that will face serious challenges as it tries to stay profitable while growing an order of magnitude or more into a global maker that produces hundreds of thousands of cars a year.

We don’t have an opinion on the relative merits of the two valuations — except, perhaps, that Tesla being worth almost half of GM seemed newsworthy.

We’ve already noted that Tesla is worth more than Fiat, the Italian carmaker that controls (but does not yet own) Chrysler.

But we also note that Telsa’s worth only 11.0 percent of Toyota’s $209.1 billion, or 28.8 percent of Volkswagen’s $79.4 billion, or one third of Ford’s $69.3 billion.

But we’re curious what you think.

Is the market ahead of general public awareness? That is, does it accurately value Tesla and its future prospects, given that the company has already achieved far more than most critics believed it could?

Or is Tesla’s current market capitalization overly high, based less on the fundamentals of its financial performance than on hype, fad, and favorable media coverage?

Could the comparison simply be a reflection of the market’s low assessment of the prospects for General Motors?

This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports.

More information:

Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla ha... read more »

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