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Tesla is not a car company — it's an 'internet-of-cars company:' Arteris CEO

It's been a huge week for Tesla (TSLA).

Shares jumped to new highs as the market cap of the pure-play electric vehicle maker topped $1 trillion for the first time, making it the 5th most valuable company in the S&P 500 (^GSPC) — and sending Elon Musk's personal fortune north of $300 billion.

A huge deal with Hertz buying 100,000 Teslas for its rental fleet, and a big bullish note from Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas had shares jumping. But it also follows a big earnings report in the week prior, where Tesla again posted record deliveries of 241,391 in the third quarter, up over 60% from a year ago. This as the company has now achieved an annual production run rate of 1 million vehicles.

[Read more: Tesla-Hertz deal is a 'major win-win for both sides:' Hedge fund veteran]


Tesla's production and delivery output comes amid the backdrop of massive automakers like GM (GM), Volkswagen (VWAGY), and Ford (F) seeing production cuts because of the ongoing component and chip shortages brought on by the lingering effects of the global pandemic.

From a scale perspective, traditional OEM automakers produce far more vehicles compared to Tesla, but even Musk naysayers can't deny what the company has been able to achieve in difficult times.

So what can other automakers learn from Tesla? Yahoo Finance asked chip tech company Arteris' (AIP) CEO Charles Janac, whose company helps SoC (system-on-chip) manufacturers make chips for cars, why Tesla has not been as affected as some of their competitors. His answer turned the question on its head.

"In my opinion, Tesla is not necessarily a car company — It's an internet of cars company," he said. "They control their software architecture very well, and ... they make some of their own chips."

Janac noted Tesla has an innovative partnership with Samsung to make chips it specifically needs, but adds that Tesla's ingenuity goes further. "Even for the chips that they buy, they're able to get their software teams to reprogram some of the software for chips that are available. So they're a little bit more nimble because they control their own software architecture."

                        , CHINA - JULY 11 2021: An aerial view of Tesla Gigafactory Three in Shanghai, China Sunday, July 11, 2021. (Photo credit should read Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
SHANGHAI , CHINA - JULY 11 2021: An aerial view of Tesla Gigafactory Three in Shanghai, China Sunday, July 11, 2021. (Photo credit should read Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images) (Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

What's happening is Tesla is that its engineers are able to repurpose and reprogram chips that control the automatic climate control system to then work with the cars infotainment system, for example.

Because Tesla has been doing all of its software programming in-house — and has basically grown up as as software and tech company first, and automaker second — it can solve problems differently than traditional automakers. 

Janac's not the first to point out how nimble the company can be. And many investors are betting on the company's creative problem-solving and its tech and software prowess when when they value the EV automaker at a forward P/E (price/earnings) ratio of 127, compared to GM's forward P/E of 8.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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