One of Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) major shareholders, Baillie Gifford, recently explained why it believes the electric car maker has hit a significant milestone that could affect the entire auto industry. In its US Annual Financial Report, the UK-headquartered fund manager outlined its reasons for its huge stake in Tesla, and how its investment in the Silicon Valley-based company will likely pay off in the long term.
Baillie Gifford noted that not too long ago, the backbone of Tesla’s business — electric vehicles — was flat-out undesirable. It was only through the company’s efforts that it proved electric cars could be competitive and even superior to gas-powered options on the market. With the advent of vehicles like the Model 3, EVs are starting to take more and more market share every year.
“It sounds strange to say it now, but it was not so long ago that electric cars were undesirable. Tesla has, pretty much single-handedly, made electric cars cool. EVs (electric vehicles) are fast, safe, clean, and increasingly affordable. Whilst true plug-in EVs still represent a small proportion of annual car sales in the US, and globally, the trends are indicative of a major shift underway. In the US, EVs made up just over 2% of new car sales in 2018, representing an almost doubling of market share year over year,” the firm noted in its Annual Financial Report.
According to the UK-based firm, this milestone for electric cars was highlighted when Tesla’s most affordable vehicle, the Model 3, beat the Toyota Camry as the best-selling passenger car in the United States based on revenue. Baillie Gifford explained that this feat marked a milestone in both the transformation of the auto market, as well as the end of car buyers’ reliance on a finite resource.
“In California, arguably a leading indicator for the adoption of new technologies, EVs comprised almost 8% of new vehicle sales last year. The astonishing fact that the Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling car in the US by revenue based on the last four quarters, coming in ahead of the Toyota Camry, perhaps marks a major milestone on the coming transformation of the car industry and the end of our reliance on a major finite resource,” Baillie Gifford wrote.
The UK-headquartered firm has remained an ardent supporter of Tesla despite the trademark volatility displayed the electric car maker’s stock. Earlier this year, Nick Thomas, a partner at Baillie Gifford, stated that the fund would be willing to invest more into the electric car maker if needed. “If he (Elon Musk) needs more capital we would be willing to back him,” he said.
Part of the reason behind Baillie Gifford’s steadfast support for Tesla could lie in the fact that the fund specializes in long-term investment strategies. The firm focuses on what it believes are industry-transforming products and services, and generally does not expect a quick return on its investments. This strategy has paid off well for Baillie Gifford, as it was able to hold significant stakes in companies that have otherwise displayed rapid growth over the years, including Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. This strategy also allowed the firm to invest in Alibaba before it became a $423-billion e-commerce behemoth, as well as Spotify before it rose to become a $32 billion music streaming service with over two hundred million users worldwide.