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TheStreet Open House

How Many $35 Billion Teslas Can We Create?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the boardrooms of the major automakers these days.

With Tesla's (TSLA - Get Report) market cap soaring north of $30 billion (fully diluted close to $35 billion), Tesla could soon acquire General Motors (GM), Ford (F) or some other company and do to Time Warner (TWX) what AOL (AOL) did in 2000.

In other words, it's panic time in Detroit, Germany, Japan and Korea! With that in mind, let's play "Shareholder Creation Wednesday" for the established automakers!

Tesla sold 23,000 cars in 2013 and has guided to 35,000 cars in 2014. That's globally. (These and the numbers below are rounded to the nearest 1,000.)

On the recent earnings call, Tesla said that sales are going to be approximately two-thirds international going forward, so that implies 12,000 cars in the U.S. in 2014. How does that compare to plug-in car sales by the other automakers?

GM: In the U.S. alone, GM sold 23,000 plug-in cars in each of 2012 and 2013. Most of these were Chevrolet Volt. Most recently, the Chevrolet Spark and Cadillac ELR have been added, but sales of those are not yet material.

Ford: In the U.S. alone, Ford sold 15,000 plug-in cars in 2013, up from 3,000 in 2012. These are the Fusion, C-Max and Focus models.

Nissan: In the U.S. alone, Nissan sold 23,000 plug-in cars in 2013, up from 10,000 in 2012. This is the Leaf.

Toyota (TM): In the U.S. alone, Toyota sold 13,000 plug-in cars in each of 2012 and 2013. These are the Prius Plug-In and the RAV4 EV.

In contrast, Tesla sold an estimated 18,000 cars in the U.S. in 2013, up from 3,000 in 2012.

Using the metrics above, very broadly speaking Tesla is selling about as many cars in the U.S. as each of GM, Ford, Nissan and Toyota. The growth rate in 2013 was much ahead of GM and Toyota, somewhat higher than Nissan and barely ahead of Ford.

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