By Emily Nicolle

NEW YORK - Electric carmaker Tesla today became the world’s most valuable automobile manufacturer, eclipsing Toyota to take the crown.

Tesla’s market value is now at $208bn, as shares rose more than five per cent to reach record highs of $1,132 earlier today.

In comparison, Toyota was worth approximately $202bn following a small drop in its Japan-listed shares fell to ¥6,656.

Tesla’s shares have risen more than 160 per cent in the year to date, while Toyota’s have fallen approximately 14 per cent.

Forecasts for Tesla’s second-quarter delivery figures have buoyed investors, given that if it meets its profit target, it may qualify the carmaker for inclusion in the S&P 500 index.

However the impact of the coronavirus pandemic may yet dampen hopes. Tesla’s Fremont factory in California was closed for just under half the quarter, and later reopened against state rules after chief executive Elon Musk refused to acknowledge the measures.

If Tesla breaks even in the second quarter, it will be first time it has ever recorded the fourth straight quarter at a profit.

The company faces different problems internally, recently postponing its annual shareholder meeting from this weekend to an unknown future date.

Tesla’s chairwoman Robyn Denholm faces a shareholder revolt at the meeting against her re-election, over concerns she has permitted Musk to hold too much influence over the company’s board.

Car sales around the world have slumped as the pandemic weighs on both production and consumer spending, forcing most traditional carmakers to report falls in profit.

In the UK, sales of new cars crashed 89 per cent last month to their worst level since 1952.