Tesla’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) performance in China with its Model 3 sedan is now being called the “heart and lungs” of owning Tesla stock by Wedbush analysts Dan Ives and Strecker Backe.
The Model 3 has been Tesla’s only vehicle in China for the past year until recently launched the Model Y. While the Model S and Model X were always available for import, the Model 3 was the only vehicle built by the electric automaker at its Shanghai-based facility. It was China’s most popular electric car in 2020, selling over 113,000 units through November 2020.
Now that Tesla has established a solid foundation in China and has considerable appeal and loyalty toward its brand, which is evident in sales figures, the company’s China operation is being looked at by Wall Street analysts as one of the most important factors in Tesla’s success moving forward.
There is no doubt that Tesla holds considerable weight in China. The world’s largest auto market is in China, and the country’s government is focusing on sustainability as it has offered several incentives to reduce the cost of electric vehicles. Now that Tesla has really established itself as the EV leader across the world, the outlook toward the automaker’s stock is also increasing, which Wedbush has done in its latest note.
“While there are 150+ auto makers aggressively going after the EV opportunity globally, right now in the EV market we believe it’s Tesla’s world and everyone else is paying rent,” Ives and Backe said in a note to investors.
EVs are starting to capture market share globally, and have even overtaken gas-powered cars in some countries. Ives and Backe said in their note that by 2022, they predict that 40% of Tesla’s total sales will come from the Chinese market, especially as the emphasis on cars inspired by the country’s tastes are being looked at for future projects. Tesla is looking for a design director for China, who will oversee new vehicle designs in the market.
Wedbush raised its price target to $950 per share from $715. Additionally, the firm released a “bull case” scenario of $1,250. Ives holds a “Hold” rating on Tesla stock, and has a 76% success rate with an average return of 35.1%, TipRanks says.
“We believe that the China growth story is worth at least $100 per share in a bull case to Tesla as this EV penetration is set to ramp significantly over the next 12 to 18 months, along with major battery innovations coming out of Giga 3 (Tesla’s Shanghai factory),” the analysts added, according to CNBC.
At the time of writing, TSLA shares were trading at $844.57.
Disclosure: Joey Klender is a TSLA Shareholder.