As the enthusiasm for electric vehicles, or EVs, heats up, Tesla has maintained the top spot as the most valuable automobile company in the world. Additionally, it is setting the pace in infrastructure, with multiple companies adopting its North American Charging Standard (NACS), the charging station infrastructure for EVs.
Driver motivators are rapidly changing as new generations emerge with different values than previous generations. New consumers are searching for automakers who are bringing ecologically friendly innovation to their lineups while continuing to put forth exceptional design. Electric vehicles represent the epitome of cutting-edge technologies, but the motor groups that continue to rise are also those who are able to source their components more efficiently in light of continued tight global conditions.
|Car Company||Market Cap as of Oct. 10|
|Tesla Inc. (ticker: TSLA)||$801.1 billion|
|Toyota Motor Corp. (TM)||$244.4 billion|
|BYD Co. Ltd. (OTC: BYDDY)||$92.8 billion|
|Porsche Automobil Holding SE (OTC: POAHY)||$86.4 billion|
|Mercedes-Benz Group AG (MBG.DE)||$72.5 billion|
|Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW.DE)||$68 billion|
|Volkswagen AG (OTC: VWAGY)||$61.6 billion|
|Stellantis NV (STLA)||$60.7 billion|
|Ferrari NV (RACE)||$57.2 billion|
|Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC)||$54.7 billion|
10. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC)
Founded in 1948, this Japanese company is headquartered in Minato, Tokyo. Honda continues to succeed with its Accord and Civic sedans, its CR-V small SUVs, and its luxury brand, Acura. Additionally, it has held the title as the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer for 65 years and produces many other small-engine and generator products.
Despite a long legacy of quality, reliability and longevity, Honda’s increasing warranty costs have been dragging down its stock price. Additionally, it has long battled with currency issues between the yen and the dollar. Overall Chinese automotive demand fell precipitously during Honda’s fiscal fourth quarter in 2022, with Chinese retail automotive unit sales falling nearly 40% year over year.
North America continues to be Honda’s largest automobile segment. Honda is rolling out its 2024 Prologue, an all-electric SUV with a 300-mile EPA range rating. Designed by a team that is both young and diverse, Honda is counting on its tech-rich interior to attract younger buyers desiring a sporty and climate-friendly option. Honda has announced that it will utilize the NACS charging plug for all its electric models beginning in 2025, with an adapter to be compatible with Tesla’s charging network.
Enzo Ferrari began his luxury sports car company in Maranello, Italy, in 1939. For almost 85 years, Ferraris have delighted and enthralled racing enthusiasts, most notably in Formula One racing, where its team, Scuderia Ferrari, holds highest court. The same care and dedication to elite racing cars has also allowed Ferrari to build elegant and prestigious sports cars, many of which hold their value extraordinarily well for collectors. Not only has Ferrari built an enduring firm, but its brand recognition and desirability are among the strongest in the world.
Ferrari is one of the few automakers that still holds to a low-volume, high-profit-margin business plan, averaging around 8,400 cars sold each year. However, it had a banner year in 2022, delivering 13,221 cars, which also drove up net profits. Ferrari is finally moving into the SUV field with its 2024 Purosangue, a 715-horsepower, 12-cylinder four-seater that is expected to cost just over $400,000.
Ferrari also holds the distinction of having spent zero dollars on advertising. Coupled with limited production, it has embraced a niche marketing strategy that endures to this day.
While Ferrari offers four hybrid models, it believes that the company would be “arrogant” to dictate what customers can buy, even if this goes against society’s call for sustainable transportation. Falling back on its heritage and niche positioning, it has continued to resist all-electric vehicles. The EU recently agreed on a synthetic e-fuel provision that many believe was designed to enable Ferrari to continue building internal combustion engine, or ICE, models despite other regulations phasing them out.
Stellantis is a fairly new name to many consumers, despite holding 14 popular brands. These brands include: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS Vehicles, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram and Vauxhall. Based in Amsterdam, Stellantis resulted from a 2021 cross-border merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Italian and American) and the PSA Group (French). In sales, only Toyota, Volkswagen and Hyundai are ahead. Stellantis is continuing to grow by acquisitions, including the car-sharing platform Share Now and autonomous technology platform aiMotive.
As with many of its competitors, semiconductor supply issues hampered its 2022-2023 foray into electric vehicles and the development of a charging network. Due to these delays, Stellantis is in negotiations with Tesla to adopt the NACS charging port, but it has yet to make an official announcement.
Stellantis has an overarching vision of “moving people and making connections,” which its CEO, Carlos Tavares, has been able to implement by maintaining superior profit margins over its competitors and empowering each individual marque to demonstrate stand-alone success and differentiation.
These profits are now at the center of contention between Stellantis and the United Auto Workers union. The UAW went on strike, and Stellantis announced a temporary layoff of 640 represented employees at the Toledo Assembly Complex (TAC). Currently, the strike has cost Stellantis and fellow automakers General Motors Co. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) a combined $5.5 billion in lost productivity. The industry acknowledges that the benefits the union seeks will be lucrative for UAW’s members, but are likely to put the Detroit Three at a serious competitive disadvantage against Tesla and other nonunion automakers.
7. Volkswagen AG (OTC: VWAGY)
While many customers are flocking to brands that are making major moves in EV technology, Volkswagen has seen its stock move downward since its March 2021 announcement that it was seeking to become the EV market leader.
Depressed Chinese automotive sales have greatly impacted VW. Supply chain issues dogged Volkswagen throughout 2022 and created liquidity issues for the company, which owns iconic brands like Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche and Ducati, in addition to Volkswagen, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Škoda, Seat and Cupra.
Founded in 1936 and headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen is best known for its iconic Beetle. Many still pine for the Volkswagen Type 2, known as the Microbus, which VW updated in 2022 as an electric vehicle and strangely named “ID.Buzz,” set to debut in the U.S. in 2024.
The German carmaker continues to face headwinds due to growing competition from Tesla and an array of Chinese automakers in the highly competitive Asian markets. Additionally, while supply chain issues have been abating in 2023, inflation’s effects and the ongoing Ukrainian conflict’s impact on consumers’ wallets has dampened demand in Europe.
6. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW.DE)
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is a 109-year-old German automaker based in Munich. Included under the BMW umbrella are the BMW, Mini and the ultra-luxurious Rolls-Royce marques. It also produces motorcycles and offer financial services.
Like its other European counterparts, BMW suffers from the concurrent issues of supply chain shortages, economic factors and overall reduced demand for automobiles. BMW has spent the past couple of years digging into its historical archives with the 50th anniversary of the M brand in May 2022. The company brought forth 50 exterior color choices from the past as well as issued a rebrand of the famed propellers logo for in-the-know buyers.
BMW is hedging its bets on the future of automotive engineering by creating multiple versions of the same car. While it expects more than 50% of its global offerings to be fully electric by 2030, it is currently offering many models, such as the BMW X3, as ICE engine, hybrid and fully-electric versions. By the same period, it plans to introduce an all-electric model lineup for both the Mini brand and its luxury line, Rolls-Royce.
BMW recently recorded a revenue slump in the China market, with sales of both BMW and Mini models dropping 1.8%.
5. Mercedes-Benz Group AG (MBG.DE)
Mercedes-Benz Group was formerly known as Daimler AG, but the Stuttgart-based German company rebranded in 2022 to pursue a higher valuation to support its expansion into electric vehicles. Mercedes was created in 1926 and has consistently built on its mission to create the world’s most desirable cars. Mercedes is also highly regarded for its leadership in vehicle safety through its intelligent driving systems. Mercedes manufactures the Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-EQ as well as vans.
The German luxury car brand has suffered for a number of years as its stock has steadily declined, but it finally saw the writing on the wall and has been rebuilding its position as the top European luxury brand.
Toward this effort, Mercedes is reinventing itself through influencer marketing within sports, technology, film and music to become known to a new generation of buyers. It is also paying closer attention to the customer experience, with ateliers opening in Dubai and Shanghai for their prestigious clientele.
However, Mercedes-Benz’s supply issues are still impacting global sales, which fell 4% in the last quarter. In the Chinese market, Mercedes’ sales slumped by more than 12%.
Mercedes became the first German automaker to announce the adoption of the NACS charging port, with plans to equip all its electric models with the Tesla charging setup by 2024. It will also produce an adapter for earlier models to be able to access the Tesla supercharging network. However, it has not shelved plans to continue to build a proprietary charging network of 2,500 charging stations throughout North America that will fit both Mercedes models as well as non-Mercedes EVs.
Mercedes has rolled out its first-ever McLaren hybrid supercar, the Artura. It has a blistering 671-horsepower engine but delivers this performance on a mere 11 miles on its motor, due to the weight of the battery pack, upward of 1,000 pounds. Mercedes says that this is just the tip of what is to come, as its engineers seek a balance of heart-stopping performance and environmental efficiency.
4. Porsche Automobile Holding SE (OTC: POAHY)
Porsche is a bright spot for its beleaguered parent, Volkswagen. Although they’re a subsidiary, each company trades separately. This 92-year-old automaker, based in Stuttgart, Germany, has seemingly bounced back more vigorously than its other European counterparts from the pandemic, supply chain issues and depressed economic conditions throughout the European Union and globally.
The company cut its teeth on its sports car lineup, especially the iconic 911, but faded fast in the 1990s when its operating costs became unwieldy. Its production had actually dissipated from 50,000 units in the previous decade to barely 15,000 at its lowest point. While many feel that the Cayenne SUV was the model that turned the company around, it was actually another sports car model, the convertible, two-seater Boxster, that made young buyers swoon again.
The Boxster was an unconventional idea that brought Porsche back to the market, and it is this kind of novel thinking that continues to help this automaker rise. Additionally, Porsche continues to have some of the lowest depreciation rates for vehicles today, making them superb collectible vehicles.
Porsche and Volkswagen’s agreements have come to an end at the close of 2022, and Porsche’s IPO has given it new power and leverage that it is making the most of in the new world of EVs. Porsche has been gunning to make 80% of its new vehicles battery-electric by 2030, with the company becoming carbon-neutral in the same time frame. Its sole all-electric model, the Taycan, includes the first-ever 800-volt battery pack for a production vehicle.
3. BYD Co. Ltd. (OTC: BYDDY)
BYD is a Chinese automaker based in Shenzhen that is comprised of two units: BYD Auto and BYD Electronic. Its name is an acronym for “Build Your Dreams.” Like Tesla, it is also a relative newcomer, founded in 1995 by Chinese billionaire Wang Chuanfu. In just a decade, the company cornered the Chinese market on mobile battery technology and manufacturing, but it has gone on to make significant investments in all manner of battery applications, such as automobiles, trucks, bicycles, buses, solar panels and even monorails.
In 2022, Chuanfu announced that the company was focused exclusively on the EV market. BYD has been able to achieve its rapid growth through vertical integration, much like Tesla has done – a key decision in an industry where new technology is growing very fast. BYD brings a deep knowledge of the most critical component of electric applications – the battery – and has been able to rely on its own steady supply of in-house components.
As the world’s largest electric-vehicle makers, BYD and Tesla are going head-to-head in China. While Tesla still has the slimmest of leads in the all-battery electric vehicle (BEV) category due to price cuts, BYD is poised to seize the top rank by the close of 2023. Ironically, BYD now supplies batteries to Tesla.
2. Toyota Motor Corp. (TM)
Toyota had long held the crown as the world’s most valuable car company, but was toppled by Tesla in 2020. Created in 1937, this Japanese company is headquartered in the eponymous city of Toyota in the Aichi prefecture and includes Lexus, Subaru and Suzuki among its marques. Toyota brought the Prius to market worldwide around the turn of the century as one of the first hybrid vehicles, and it became the darling of U.S. environmentalists and eco-conscious consumers. However, these same environmentalists now decry hybrids as no longer being a viable alternative, and Toyota has found itself at the bottom of automaker lists for its lack of decarbonization efforts.
This month, Toyota is responding with its 2024 Toyota Prius. While still a hybrid, Toyota has rolled out a model with sexy, athletic coupe lines and an impressive 57 mpg combined rating, making it the most fuel-efficient hybrid in production for model year 2024.
Zero-emission EVs still represent less than 1% of Toyota’s overall sales. Toyota believes that its strategy is justified, citing the high cost of EVs for most consumers and a lack of infrastructure to support them, although the company is beginning to make deeper commitments to all-electric vehicles in response to the criticism. However, Toyota has also been reticent to adopt the North American Charging Standard led by Tesla.
Tesla made an early bet on electric vehicles and continues to advance the concept through innovations in both battery life and charging range. By 2022, Tesla’s vehicle deliveries reached a record 1.31 million units and have been steadily growing year over year. Its choice of vertical integration has also enabled Tesla to be both nimble and far less vulnerable to the supply chain issues that impacted most of its competitors throughout 2022 and into 2023.
Bolstering Tesla’s market-leader position is the adoption of the Tesla charging stations as the industry standard, giving it first-position standing among consumers who are concerned about EV infrastructure, especially in the Midwest.
However, Tesla continues to be the most valuable company because it actually makes money. Even as prices have dropped to become on par with ICE vehicles, Tesla continues to bring in the most revenue. For these reasons, it is believed to be the car company most likely to maintain its market-leader position as the country continues transitioning to EVs.
Price reductions of Tesla models have been key to positioning the company more meaningfully in the minds of mainstream consumers; yet, as profit margins become squeezed, investors will be looking to see if Tesla can continue to bring both value and excitement to the automotive world.
Tesla just announced its enhanced 2024 Cybertruck Plaid motor, due out this month, with a 0-60 acceleration of just 2.5 seconds, 154 mph top speed, 500-mile charging range, increased maneuverability and the potential for two-way charging capability. Additionally, whispers have been made about an enhanced charging system to accommodate these more muscular vehicles with extended ranges. Both projects are expected to be quite popular among truck enthusiasts.
Tesla is the youngest automaker of the group, created in 2003, and is headquartered in Austin, Texas. Not only has Tesla succeeded in becoming the most valuable automaker in the world, but it also holds the status as one of the world’s most valuable companies. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has become the world’s second-richest person as a result of his holdings in Tesla and other innovative, forward-thinking companies. However, Musk and French billionaire Bernard Arnault continually flirt with the No. 1 richest-person ranking.