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Tesla's value soars to $20 billion

Posting in Energy

The fast road to market cap. Tesla is now worth more than Chrysler, and is gaining rapidly on Ford and General Motors.

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More boy wonder news for Tesla Motors, the 10-year-old electric car maker from California: Its market value has soared to $20 billion.

To put that in the context of Detroit's "Big Three" manufacturers, Tesla is now worth more than Chrysler (in fact it exceeds the entire Fiat Group, the majority owner of Chrysler), approaches half (41 percent) of General Motor's $48 billion, and tallies 31 percent of Ford's $64 billion, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

All this from a company that sells a tiny volume of cars compared to the trio of conventional auto makers. Bloomberg notes that Tesla has 1 percent of Ford's monthly sales. It has even less of GM's. In July, GM sold 234,000 cars in the U.S., Ford 193,000, and Chrysler 140,000 according to Motor Intelligence as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

"Tesla shares, which are up 390 percent this year, change hands at an otherwordly 260 times estimated 2013 earnings, versus 10 for General Motors and 11 for Ford," Bloomberg explains.

It's been a good year for the company run by 42-year-old South African born American entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk. Last week the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration named Tesla's $70,000 Model S luxury sedan the safest car ever. In May the company reported its first ever quarterly profit and it paid off a $465 million U.S. Department of Energy loan nine years early. Consumer Reports rated the Model S as its top scorer, a few months after the electric vehicle won the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award.

It hasn't been all roses. Tesla actually started recalling an estimated 800 Model S cars for safety concerns in July, a development that did not seem to impede last week's safety honors from the U.S. government.

But as Bloomberg notes, "the hits keep coming." All the more reason to ask whether Musk, whose entrepreneurial zeal extends into other industries as well, is the new Steve Jobs.

What's your car (maker) worth? --

Photo from Steve Jurvetson/Camilo via Wikimedia. Graphic from Bloomberg Businessweek.

Tesla's vintage year:

— By on August 27, 2013, 9:04 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure