Wall Street investors rallied behind Tesla (Nasdaq:TSLA) today, with the electric car start-up’s share price surging nearly 41 percent on its first day of trading on Nasdaq. Tesla’s share price ended the day at $23.89 a share, a gain of $6.89 on its opening price of $17.

Just the day before Tesla raised $226 million through its IPO, where investors clamored for a total of 13.3 million shares, pushing the price beyond the expected $14 to $16 range.

The results were quite impressive for a company that has never made a profit before and has in fact lost more than $260.7 million since its inception seven years ago.

Most of that excitement is riding on news of the upcoming Model S electric sedan, which is expected to go on sale in 2012 priced at around $50,000. News also broke recently that the company is planning several other models all based on the Model S, including a crossover, convertible and commercial van.

In a filing with the SEC, Tesla has revealed that it will use the funds to pay for possible acquisitions and factories to start producing the Model S. The same factories will also be used to produce Tesla’s next-generation Roadster in 2013.

Speaking today in New York, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company could be profitable by just building high-priced electric sports cars but he’s determined to make the brand attract mass-market appeal and much bigger profits. Interestingly, Tesla is the first actual automaker to launch an IPO in the U.S. since Ford 54 years ago.

[Automotive News, sub req’d]