There's a new member of the Big 3 in America's auto industry

Tesla on Tuesday was on the verge of becoming the largest automaker in the US by market capitalisation.

The electric-car maker on Monday surpassed Ford as its shares rallied above $US300 for the first time, giving it a market cap of about $US49.21 billion, according to Bloomberg.

GM was worth $US51.3 billion. Its shares fell 3% on Monday, its biggest drop in nine months, after reporting March sales that were weaker than analysts expected. Ford also fell after the auto sales data.

However, Tesla jumped 7% on Monday after reporting record deliveries in the first quarter, up 69% year-over-year to a record 25,000 vehicles. The rally put the company in second place ahead of Ford.

There remain big gaps between the three companies, as market cap is just one way of measuring a company’s worth. Tesla has only generated a profit in two of the past 13 quarters. Its launches have been inundated with delays in the past.

And, Tesla still has some catching up to do globally; Japan-based Toyota is worth $US177 billion, or more than three Teslas.

While Tesla’s stock rose to new highs, traders increased their bets that the shares would fall. Those wagers have not yet paid off, as short sellers have this year lost nearly $US3 billion, according to the financial-analytics firm S3 Partners.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Tesla surpassed GM by market cap.

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