Electric vehicle maker Tesla may be one of the first auto names to pop onto an investor's radar, but analyst Jurgen Pieper says a different automaker is the "best pick right now." Pieper, head of research and senior advisor for automobiles at Metzler Research, told CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" on Tuesday that Tesla's fourth-quarter results — released on Jan. 26 — "looked much better" than what its competitors could achieve in the current challenging operating environment. "I think Tesla, looking back into the short history, has always been better off than most competitors and I think this is still the case today," Pieper said. After rallying around 45% last year, shares of Tesla — the world's most famous EV manufacturer and newly minted member of the $1 trillion market value club — is down around 6% this year. Nevertheless, the EV maker remains the world's most valuable automaker by a long mile. The company launched its first manufacturing facility in Europe on Tuesday. The new Giga Berlin, or Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg factory, is in the Grünheide municipality just outside of the capital Berlin. Constructed at a cost of $5.5 billion, the factory is expected to eventually produce 500,000 vehicles annually. Despite Tesla's obvious appeal, Pieper believes the stock is too expensive relative to its peers. "We are not talking about 10-20 or 50% premium, but about a few hundred percent premium," he said. Alternative pick Instead, Pieper's preferred pick in the auto space is German automaker Mercedes-Benz . "If you put everything together, the current momentum, the quality of the products and of the management and certainly also the electric mobility strategy, then Mercedes to us looks like the best pick right now," Pieper said. The company is also buy-rated by Bank of America , with the U.S. bank ascribing a price target of 83 euros ($91.50) on the stock. Shares of the company closed at around 64 euros on Mar. 22, implying a 29.7% potential upside to the bank's price target. Bank of America believes the company will benefit from rising EV adoption, with the automaker aiming to transition to a full EV lineup by 2030. The company is also expected to retain its margins at or above 10% in the mid-and long-term, Bank of America's analysts, led by Eric Lopez, wrote in a research note on Mar. 22.
A Tesla dealership in Colma, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Electric vehicle maker Tesla may be one of the first auto names to pop onto an investor's radar, but analyst Jurgen Pieper says a different automaker is the "best pick right now."