Tesla this week crossed a symbolic threshold in the U.S. auto market when its market capitalization eclipsed industry icon Ford Motor Co.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla's stock price climbed 7.3 percent on Monday after it reported record-high vehicle production and deliveries in the first quarter of the year.
At a price of $298.52 per share, the Journal noted that investors valued Tesla at $48.7 billion compared to $45.5 billion for Ford. The 14-year-old electric vehicle maker was also just $2.5 billion in value behind General Motors for the top spot in the American auto market.
Although Tesla is valued highly by investors, in practice it posts a fraction of the revenue, profits and sales of Detroit's "Big Three."
Conventional automakers saw sluggish stock performances due to lackluster monthly sales numbers and warnings of increasing vehicle inventories, but the paper noted that Tesla's rapid ascension from a Silicon Valley start-up represented a dramatic change in the auto segment.
Profitable quarters remain few and far between for Tesla — and analysts expect another loss for the first three months of this year — but the company expects profits to grow as production increases.
Tesla intends to introduce its first mass-market vehicle — the Model 3 — later this year, and CEO Elon Musk set a goal of producing 500,000 vehicles per year by 2018.
Musk took the opportunity to chide investors that bet against his company after Monday's stock gains.
"Stormy weather in Shortville," he wrote on Twitter.