Tesla tops $1 tln in market value as Hertz deal fuels latest surge

AFP , Monday 25 Oct 2021

Tesla became the latest US tech giant to hit $1 trillion in market value Monday as investors cheered a large order from Hertz and shrugged off criticism from a US auto safety official.

Tesla
FILE - This Feb. 9, 2019, file photo shows a sign bearing the company logo outside a Tesla store in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver. (Photo: AP)

Shares of Elon Musk's company finished at $1,024.86, up 12.7 percent and topping $1 trillion for the first time.

"Wild $T1mes!" Musk said on Twitter.

The surge followed an announcement from rental car giant Hertz of an order to buy 100,000 autos from Tesla by the end of 2022 in the latest embrace of electric car technology by a mainstream auto player.

The Hertz announcement came on the heels of strong Tesla earnings last week that illustrated the company's resilience in spite of a semiconductor shortage that has weighed more heavily on other automakers.

Leading analysts at Morgan Stanley upped their target on Tesla to $1,200 from $894, pointing to the company's "extraordinary" revenue in the last quarter despite supply chain problems.

The Morgan Stanley note predicted Tesla over the next 12 to 18 months will "demonstrate the capabilities of the Trillion dollar Tesla," as it ramps up production and expands its capacity, model offerings and service offerings.

Safety board criticism

Monday's rally overlooked a letter from the National Transportation Safety Board castigating Musk for not implementing key recommendations to safeguard the automaker's driver assistance programs.

In a September 2017 report on a fatal incident a year earlier in Florida, the NTSB concluded that Tesla's driver assistance system was prone to being employed on roads for which it was not designed. Tesla's program also failed to detect signs the driver was disengaged.

The agency urged Tesla to incorporate safeguards to limit the system to areas for which it was intended and to alert the driver when he or she became disengaged.

The other five automakers that received the NTSB's recommendations responded and outlined the steps they were taking.

"Tesla is the only manufacturer that did not officially respond to us about the recommendations," wrote NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy.

Homendy described a second fatal crash in California in 2018 that also took place in a roadway not meant for the driver assistance system and with an operator who was disengaged.

"Our crash investigations involving your company's vehicles have clearly shown the potential for misuse requires a system design change to ensure safety," Homendy said.

But investors gave more weight to the announcement from Hertz.

The car rental giant, which emerged from a bankruptcy reorganization earlier this year, said the electric vehicles (EV) would be available "in US major markets and select cities in Europe" beginning in early November, according to a press release.

"Electric vehicles are now mainstream, and we've only just begun to see rising global demand and interest," said interim Hertz Chief Executive Mark Fields.

The deal with Hertz is "a huge win" for Tesla, Briefing.com said on its website.

"Beyond the windfall from the order itself, the availability of 100,000 new Model 3s on Hertz' lots is like a direct marketing campaign for Tesla," Briefing said.

"After being introduced to Tesla for the first time, some of those Hertz customers may ultimately turn into Tesla customers. Additionally, the deal represents another milestone in the broader adoption of EVs, while also opening up an entirely new market for Tesla."

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