By Subrat Patnaik, Sanjana Shivdas and David Shepardson
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc on Monday neared $1 trillion in market capitalization as the company founded by Elon Musk received its biggest-ever order — 100,000 electric rental cars for Hertz.
Tesla shares were up 7.5% at $978, hitting a new record high Monday, following the order. Shares were also buoyed by news of the company's Model 3 becoming the first electric vehicle to top monthly sales of new cars in Europe.
The news from Hertz comes as Tesla is coping with a backlog of unfulfilled orders for its vehicles and continuing supply chain disruptions, but it does solidify the mainstream appeal of electric cars.
Interim Hertz Chief Executive Mark Fields told Reuters the order will primarily be Model 3 vehicles. Hertz customers can rent a Tesla starting in November and the company will have 3,000 chargers in 65 markets by the end of 2022, he added. By the end of 2023, Fields said his firm will have 4,000 chargers in 100 markets.
"We absolutely believe that this is going to be competitive advantage for us," Fields said of the Tesla order, due to be delivered by the end of 2022. "We want to be a leader in mobility… Getting customers experience with electrified vehicles is an absolute priority for us."
Hertz, which requires customers to refuel gasoline-powered rental cars on return or pay a fee, said for now customers will not have to return Teslas fully recharged.
Hertz has around 430,000 to 450,000 vehicles worldwide, Fields said. He said Hertz would work with other automakers producing electric vehicles.
Tesla would have to top $995.75 to become a company worth a trillion dollars, according to Reuters calculations based on its latest filing. The world's most valuable carmaker will join an elite club that includes Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc
The world's most valuable automaker delivered a record https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/tesla-delivers-241300-vehicles-q3-beats-analysts-estimates-2021-10-02 241,300 electric cars globally in the third quarter, even as it warned that supply chain headwinds https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/tesla-beats-quarterly-revenue-estimates-2021-10-20 would pressure margins.
Tesla's cheapest Model 3 sedan starts at about $44,000, making this order worth about $4.4 billion, if the entire order were for its mass-market sedan.
Fields declined to say how much Hertz was paying for the order. Tesla was not immediately available for comment.
With the current order, Hertz said EVs will make up more than 20% of its global fleet. Fields cited the rising number of EVs for sale and consumer interest in electrified vehicles.
"We want to be out there early and fast and take a leadership position," Fields said.
Wedbush said in a note to investors that "Tesla getting an order of this magnitude highlights the broader EV adoption underway in our opinion as part of this oncoming green tidal wave now hitting the U.S."
"It (the order) puts an exclamation point under guidance for 50%+ growth in deliveries," Roth Capital analyst Craig Irwin said. "Another solid piece of evidence EVs are going mainstream."
The car rental firm also said it was installing thousands of chargers throughout its network. Customers who rent a Tesla Model 3 will have access to 3,000 Tesla supercharging stations throughout the United States and Europe.
"Electric vehicles are now mainstream, and we've only just begun to see rising global demand and interest," said Hertz interim Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields.
U.S. President Joe Biden has made it a priority to support the rollout of electric vehicles to combat climate change, but a lack of charging network infrastructure could remain a key hurdle to his ambitious plan.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley bumped their price target on Tesla by 33% as the brokerage expects the electric carmaker to keep posting higher volumes, reaching more than 8 million deliveries in 2030.
A Cox Automotive study said Americans are hesitant to buy EVs due to anxieties about the ranges of the vehicles and high price tags, as well as weak charging infrastructure.
Hertz had filed for bankruptcy protection last year as travel demand sank during the height of the pandemic and talks with creditors failed to provide relief.
It was rescued by a group of investors including Knighthead Capital Management, Certares Opportunities and Apollo Capital Management.
(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Additonal reporting by Eva Mathews, Aniruddha Ghosh and Kannaki Deka; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Lisa Shumaker)
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