Tesla dethroned as most valuable U.S. carmaker amid stock slide

Tesla has hit a bump in the road and fallen from its spot as the nation’s most valuable carmaker about three months since it first took the title.

The Silicon Valley maker of electric vehicles has seen its shares drop about 14 percent this week, meaning it is once again the No. 2 most valuable automaker after General Motors. Tesla had surpassed both Ford and GM in market value within one week in early April.

But earlier this week, Tesla announced second-quarter deliveries that fell short of expectations, citing battery problems. Also, CEO Elon Musk revealed a timetable for Model 3 production that wasn’t quite as ambitious as previous estimates. The Model 3 is Tesla’s first mass-market vehicle; the company has nearly 400,000 reservations for the sedan, which starts at $35,000 — Tesla’s cheapest car yet.

Wednesday, Volvo said it would be ditching traditional engines and going all-electric starting in 2019. This would give Tesla more competition than it already has in the EV market, already populated by GM’s Chevy Bolt and the Nissan Leaf and expecting entries from many other major carmakers in the next few years.

Still, a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance released Thursday predicts Tesla will win the nation’s EV race: 709,000 vehicles delivered by 2021.

“If they can stick to the Model 3 timeline, they’re going to be at the front edge of this for a while,” BNEF analyst Colin McKerracher told Bloomberg News, which notes that BNEF’s forecasts do not take into account Volvo’s Wednesday announcement.

But there’s also more bad news for Musk’s company Thursday: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Tesla’s Model S failed to earn the Top Safety Pick rating in its class of large vehicles. Tesla responded by saying that the Model S “received the highest rating in IIHS’s crash testing in every category except for one, the small overlap front crash test, where it received the second highest rating available,” according to CNBC.

Tesla shares are down more than 4 percent to $313.10 as of this post. Its market value is at $47.7 billion; GM’s market cap is at $51.82 billion.

Tesla’s stock could have its worst week of the year. Shares had started off the year right under $100 and had risen to record highs of more than $380 before their steep decline this week.


Photo: The Tesla factory in Fremont in January 2016. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)


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