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Powered Up: Tesla Model S Named ‘Car of the Year’ By Motor Trend

Tesla Model S

It isn’t often that I use the basis of an article to promote the work of another automotive publication. While my efforts are always confident my work for to stand on its own, I will freely commend Motor Trend as the gold standard of automobile journalism. After 63 years dedicated to covering automobiles in North America, Motor Trend’s announcement in declaring a “Car of the Year” winner is understandably a big annual event in car media. Like a motorized beauty pageant, the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for the 2013 model year vehicles is a compilation of best efforts in order to win over judges.

Facing tough competition from the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion, the Toyota Prius c and Chevrolet Malibu, an all-electric luxury vehicle prevailed from the intense evaluation as the latest recipient of the sought-after honour of Motor Trend Car of Year. The creation of Elon Musk’s all-electric car company, the Tesla Model S stood above all others in a surprising upset.

A first time an all-electric vehicle claimed the Motor Trend Car of the Year honours, the Tesla Model S was appreciated for its technological achievement of 250 patents, solid all-around luxury design and sporty nature. A big victory indeed for electric vehicles, the Model S sedan’s award from Motor Trend will be crucial positive recognition for the young California-based auto company.


Tesla Model S and Roadster


The Motor Trend Car of the Year award was first handed out in 1949 shortly after their magazine was released. In that year, as well as several years following, a car division was named as the winner rather than a specific product. Cadillac was the inaugural winner of the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 1949. The Ford Thunderbird was the first individual vehicle to be singled out by the magazine for the annual honours.

In the history relating to the Car of the Year award, Motor Trend largely favoured American badged vehicles from the Detroit Three auto companies. General Motors, Chrysler Corporation and Ford Motor Company scored the honour on all but 11 occasions it was up for grabs. In fact, for many years the Car of the Year category entrants could only be American built products. Motor Trend handed out a separate Import Car of the Year award for several decades. Prior to the so-called “Made in America“ criteria, the Citroen SM was named Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1972 becoming the first imported nameplate to win. The Volkswagen GTI won in 1985 but it qualified because it was produced in the United States at the time.


Tesla Model S

Beneficial to the Tesla Model S, the sedan have received the same honour as iconic automotive products like Ford Taurus and Toyota Prius has received in the past. However, the Motor Trend Car of the Year award is not a guarantee for success. The Chevrolet Corvair, Ford Mustang II, Dodge Omni and the Renault Alliance are a few award recipients either forgotten or would be remembered unfavourably after their production concluded. The 1972 Motor Trend Car of the Year winning Citroen SM only had a short-lived sales history in the United States and the reinvented Ford Thunderbird that won 2002 honours fizzled quickly from popularity.

Tesla Motors was mentioned during the first United States presidential debate in early October. Candidate Mitt Romney dropped the name of the auto company as a “loser” of clean energy businesses attributed to president Barack Obama‘s policies. Since Obama defended the US presidency against Romney, some political observers could see the Tesla Model S Car of the Year win as a second defeat in the world of Republican thinking.

Notwithstanding the opinion of a defeated presidential candidate, the Tesla Model S reception of the special Car of the Year honour from Motor Trend does leave a few questions. Is an electrified $50,000-plus luxury sedan that can only travel about 265 miles the evolutionary vehicle worthy of the prestigious award in motoring? Though the Model S is a technologically marvellous product, infrastructure for charging electric cars as well as Tesla’s limited dealership network only now starting to bud could keep the sedan’s winning personality undiscovered secret for some time. However, perhaps with the major award win, the prospect of electric cars is definitely given an enthusiastic boast. The Tesla Model S could have the ingredients to many more cars of the year in the future.


Information source: Motor trend, Tesla Motors
Photo source: Tesla Motors