Tesla Stock Hits New High Despite Dealer Fight In Georgia

Tesla, who has continually confounded critics over its stock price, managed to set a new record after it closed at $284.05 a share yesterday, a 5.3 percent increase from its previous high on August 28.

Several factors were at play here, including a recent deal struck with China Unicom — the second-largest mobile phone company in China — to help create an enormous network of charging stations. Tesla will provide the technical bits, and China Unicom the land, with the goal of offering Tesla owners free electricity at 400 stations in 120 cities, along with another 20 fast-charge Supercharger setups on top.

Also contributing to the stock surge is a report from Stifel Nicolaus & Co., which opined that Tesla could be worth as much as $400 a share even before the Model X SUV and lower-priced Model 3 sedan make their appearance.

“[Tesla] appears to have carved out a defensible niche in the global market for luxury electric vehicles, and based on our recent tour of the Fremont, CA, facility, a sizable head start with respect to production,” said James Albertine, equity analyst with Stifel. “They are on track (if not ahead of plan) to achieving a 1,000 unit per week production rate by year-end 2014.”

All of this positive press greatly overshadowed the ongoing, grinding legal action by various state auto dealer associations about Tesla’s direct-to-consumer sales model, including Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The latest comes from the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, which filed a complaint stating that Tesla broke the state’s rules by selling more than 150 cars in a year. Tesla suggests the rules are applicable on a calendar-year basis, while GADA obviously sees that differently, saying Tesla sold 173 Model S’ between October to June.

“Tesla has been and remains in full compliance with all Georgia laws in the opening and operation of its retail operations in that state,” wrote Simon Sproule, Tesla spokesman, to Automotive News. “[The petition] is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to stifle new innovation and eliminate consumer choice by trying to establish a monopoly that restricts the way consumers can buy new vehicles.”

AN