GM retakes lead from Tesla as most valuable U.S. car maker

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(Reuters)

General Motors (GM) is once again the most valuable automaker in the U.S., overtaking Tesla (TSLA) on Thursday after a couple rough days for the electric car builder.

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Tesla's growth remains stellar, with shares soaring close to 50% this year, twice that of GM. Ford Motor Co. (F) has actually fallen in value this year.

But a trifecta of bad news in recent days, starting with a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has delivered the worst week for the electric automaker's stock since early 2016.

Shares fell nearly 6% in recent trading, pushing shares down more than 14% for the week.

Tesla had a market value of $50.6 billion as of Thursday afternoon. GM was worth more at $52.2 billion.

On Monday, Musk sent out a tweet saying that the Palo Alto, California, company anticipates production of 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December, which was below previous estimates. Tesla also said it delivered 47,100 in the first half, at the low end of the company's projected range of 47,000 to 50,000 deliveries.

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Then on Wednesday, the dynamics of the electric car market shifted a bit when Volvo announced that by 2019, it would be producing only electric and hybrid vehicles, the first traditional automaker to make that leap. Volvo, which is based in Sweden but owned by Chinese firm Geely, will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three of them will be Volvo models and two will be electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars' performance car arm. It also plans to offer a range of hybrids as options, expecting to sell 1 million electrified cars by 2025.

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GM is already selling the Chevrolet Bolt, and Audi plans to introduce an electric SUV next year. Ford will have one by 2020.

On Thursday, one day after the Volvo announcement, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that while Tesla's Model S received an acceptable rating in its small overlap front test, it did not get the Top Safety Pick+ rating that the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Avalon received. Overlap front tests gauge the safety of those inside the car when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle hits a tree or utility pole, or collides with another vehicle.

Tesla said Thursday that the carmaker's rating for the small overlap front crash test was the second-highest rating available and that the company received the highest rating in the rest of IIHS's crash testing categories. A Tesla spokesperson maintained that "the most objective and accurate independent testing of vehicle safety is currently done by the U.S. government, which found Model S and Model X to be the two cars with the lowest probability of injury of any cars that it has ever tested."

Nonetheless on Wall Street, where Tesla's shares have been unstoppable, investors are taking a breather.

Shares of Tesla slid 5.9% to $307.70 on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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