Tesla has become the first carmaker to join the elite club of companies with a market value of more than US$1 trillion. The American firm headed by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk has not done that because of enormous sales; its electric vehicles account for less than 1 per cent of global car purchases. What is driving the enthusiasm of investors is anticipation of the future direction of the industry. With governments planning to phase out fossil fuel-powered cars in coming decades to meet climate change goals, it is an inevitable shift that will benefit everyone, not just stockholders. The landmark was reached when the Hertz car rental firm announced it would buy 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla, pushing the share price up by 12 per cent. Tesla is only the sixth company to reach that status, the others being Apple, Microsoft, Saudi Aramco, Google’s parent, Alphabet, and Amazon. That is telling; all but Saudi Aramco are technology companies and Wall Street views the carmaker in the same light. Its products are, after all, about using technological advances to make travel cleaner, easier and safer. The Li-ion batteries that power electric vehicles from Tesla, VW and BYD It helps that governments want to get polluting fossil fuel vehicles off roads to help meet zero-carbon emission targets around the middle of the century. Carmakers are complying, variously setting 2035, 2030 and earlier for all-electric model line-ups. Tesla has been in the vanguard and spectacularly so; it took just 11 years from being listed as a public company to reach US$1 trillion market capitalisation, compared to 23 years for Amazon, which attained that figure last year. Assisting popularity and optimism about future growth are batteries that are increasingly cheaper and more powerful, improving distance range and functionality. But while Tesla is a market leader, it has plenty of competition, particularly from Chinese carmakers. Governments have to ensure an adequate number of battery charging stations. They have a more important obligation if targets are to be met and global warming stopped, though; the electricity that powers such vehicles has to come from clean sources such as solar, wind and nuclear. Companies and buyers may feel they are doing their part, but only when coal, oil and gas are eliminated from the energy mix can the world breathe easier.