China sales and impending Semi production send Tesla shares into the stratosphere

Tesla’s stock briefly cracked the thousand-dollar mark, setting a new all-time high and raising the company’s market valuation to over $180 billion, making it the world’s most valuable automaker, after Toyota.

The main impetus for the stock surge seems to have been a stellar sales report from China. Tesla sold 11,095 Shanghai-made Model 3s in China in May, more than triple the figure for April, according to the China Passenger Car Association (via Business Insider). May was a surprisingly strong month for the Chinese auto market, which posted its first month-to-month sales gain in almost a year.

As TSLA headed upwards on the Chinese news, Elon Musk kicked things into Ludicrous mode with an announcement that the Tesla Semi will soon go into volume production.

Nikola Motors, which plans to bring a line of battery-electric and fuel cell heavy-duty trucks to market, had been hogging the headlines since its recent IPO, and Musk may have decided it was time to remind investors who the leader is in the EV market.

In an email to employees, Musk said it’s “time to go all out” and put Tesla’s Semi into volume production. He later reiterated the message in a tweet, but has offered no time frame as yet. A few weeks ago, Tesla had said it would postpone the first Semi deliveries to 2021.

Nikola founder Trevor Milton responded in a spirit of friendly competition. “It’s Nikola and Tesla battling to stop emissions,” Milton tweeted. “Don’t ever count Elon out and don’t expect me to stop working hard to compete against you. Congrats on the shareholder value!”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Tesla has received Chinese government approval to build Model 3s with a new type of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery. The company has been talking about using cobalt-free LFP batteries from Chinese supplier CATL, but the document cited by Reuters doesn’t specify a supplier.

Sources: Electrek, Reuters, TechCrunch, Bloomberg