Will the auto industry change more in the next decade than it has in the past century?

We think that's hyperbole. There will be big changes, including the arrival of electric cars in volume, but to say the cars of 2020 will be as different from today's as the cars of today were from those in 1911 ... well, that's a bit of a stretch.

Undaunted by what we might think, Merrill Lynch auto analyst Steve Milunovich has issued a "Buy" recommendation to kick off the firm's coverage of Tesla Motors stock.

In his note, he said, "In our view, CEO Elon Musk may be similar to Steve Jobs in being a technology visionary also able to manage and create shareholder value."

Musk is a serial entrepreneur, running both Tesla and SpaceX, who made his money when Paypal was sold to eBay. He's one of several focuses in the movie Revenge of the Electric Car, and a father of five, among other accomplishments.

But we still think it may be too early to make that comparison. Tesla stock right now is riding on the promise of the all-electric 2012 Model S luxury sports sedan that the company is working furiously to finish and put into production by the end of next year.

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

Until that car emerges, and there's a steady stream of customers willing to pay $57,400 or more for it, the Steve Jobs analogy seems a bit premature.

It's also likely, according to industry analysts, that Tesla Motors will not survive as an independent auto company, but will be sold to a larger automaker within the next few years.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock opened this morning at $25.44. It entered the market at $17 last June, and has stayed above that price since then. Mikunovich has a target price of $35 on the stock.

So what do you think? Is Elon Musk the equivalent of Apple's Steve Jobs?

Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below.

[Forbes via BusinessInsider]


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