Tesla’s Market Value Has to Triple to Catch Toyota

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Tesla Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) market value has matched General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) at about $51 billion. The feat was extraordinary given that GM sold about 10 million cars last year and Tesla less than 100,000. But Tesla has a very long way to go to catch the world’s number two car company in sales. Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) has a market cap of $151 billion.

Toyota’s sales dominance in a number of markets, particularly the United States and Japan, is not its only advantage. It brand power is extraordinary. According to the 2016 Interbrand 100 Most Valuable Brands in the World, Toyota was the world’s fourth most valuable brand at $53.6 billion. That put it just ahead of other major global brands such as IBM, Samsung and Amazon. Tesla ranked at 100 on the list, with a brand value of around $4 billion.

One of Toyota’s major advantages is the perception of its brand as among the highest quality in the industry. It often ranks at or near the top of leading automotive studies, including those from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.

Toyota is also huge and profitable. Last year, its revenue was $201 billion and its net income more than $20 billion. Its fiscal year ends in March. GM’s annual income for the period that ended in December was $166 billion. Its net income was $9.4 billion. Tesla’s revenue last year was $7 billion, and it lost $674 million.

Notably, Toyota is not a leader in the race to be the top electric car company or autonomous car manufacturer. Like all other major global manufacturers, it is in the races. Toyota’s market cap is based on financial performance, unit sales and brand quality. For now, that gives it a value of three times that of Tesla.