The Futuristic Vision That’s Driven Tesla’s Value Above $30 Billion

teslaBy the end of this decade, new Teslas will be more popular than Volvos, and Tesla Motors Inc(NASDAQ:TSLA) will be more profitable than Chrysler. Drivers of the sleek plug-in electric cars will be able to go cross-country at no cost, thanks to a network of Supercharger stations — and battery costs might even improve enough for Teslas to be less expensive to own, in total, than a gasoline car.

This, at least, is the ambitious vision of our automotive future that’s captivating Wall Street and has propelled Tesla’s stock-market value above $30 billion, before the company has sold even 30,000 cars in a year. Tesla now has more than half the market value of General Motors Company(NYSE:GM), which this year will sell more than 9 million vehicles.

The combination of an impressive product line, dramatic hype about a post-petroleum economy, the lionization of capitalist hero and founder Elon Musk and the lack of real profits to date has made Tesla a matter of fierce disagreement among investors and consumers alike. The stock is up an astonishing 770% over the past two years, to a price above $257. And yet skeptics keep gunning for Tesla, with bets by short sellers that the stock will fall now accounting for more than 25% of Tesla’s available shares.

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