Elon Musk has just become the richest person in the world, with a personal fortune valued at $185 billion (£136 billion); the first time the Tesla CEO has topped the global rankings.

He takes the title from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, who has been the world’s wealthiest person since 2017.

Musk acknowledged the achievement when a Tesla fan club tweeted him about it, replying only with ‘How strange’ followed by ‘Well, back to work…’

The South African owns about 20% of Tesla’s shares, so has benefited from the US company’s recent performance on the stock market. Tesla’s share price hit $700 billion on Wednesday, making it more valuable than Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai, GM and Ford combined. At the start of 2020, it was priced at $115 billion.

It comes on the back of some upbeat news around electric cars. Tesla recently announced that it had produced just over 500,000 cars in 2020, despite the global pandemic. Deliveries in total for 2020 were 499,550 – just 450 short of the target announced at the start of the year.

The figure is another substantial improvement on the previous year for the firm, which reported approximately 367,500 deliveries in 2019 – itself a 50% improvement on 2018.

In addition, the SMMT has just announced that UK sales of electric cars rose by 180% year on year to 108,205 units, bucking the trend of a disappointing year for sales of petrol and diesel cars.

The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling car in the UK in December, with just under 6000 cars sold. Its 5798 registrations gave it an advantage of more than 1000 over the next most popular car, the new Volkswagen Golf (4470), and more than 2000 over the Ford Fiesta (3367). Model 3 sales weren’t far off double the number of ID 3s that Volkswagen shifted.