Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]Enlarge Photo
The progress of Tesla Motors, electric car startup co-founded by PayPal billionaire Elon Musk, has been eye-opening for many in 2013.
While the company hasn't been immune to the pressures of building a new car, and accident-related fires caused the firm's lofty stock price to dip towards the end of the year, the company has jumped every hurdle with professionalism uncommon to startups and most importantly, it's turned out a desirable, competitive product.
Tesla Motors' [NSDQ:TSLA] relative success with electric vehicles is why one analyst is predicting the company might actually be sold to a major automaker in 2014. According to USA Today, veteran trader Yra Harris of Praxis Trading told CNBC this week that he predicts General Motors may buy the electric automaker next year. General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] already produces two plug-in electric vehicles, the range-extended Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR, but modest success makes the buzz-generating Tesla a tempting acquisition proposition.
Musk has long maintained that he would not sell Tesla, and in the short term at least the company's progress makes that quite a convincing argument. The Model S is selling well in the U.S--with 5,500 cars delivered in the third quarter--is proving popular in its first European markets and is now expanding into China. The company also has the Model X crossover on the horizon and a smaller, less expensive sedan arriving in the coming years. Tesla has a market capitalization of $18 billion. All these factors and Tesla's expertise in the growing electric vehicle market would make it a useful asset to any large automaker.
Ultimately, as Harris notes, Tesla's acquisition really does depend on whether Musk is ready to part with the company. It's also worth pointing out that both Daimler and Toyota already have a stake in Tesla, both companies using Tesla technology in certain vehicles, production and prototype. Each might have their own eyes on Tesla if a major U.S. automaker became more interested...