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Motor Trend awards the Tesla Model S 2013 Car of the Year

Yesterday, the panel of experts who determine Motor Trend’s annual Car of the Year, awarded Tesla’s four-door sedan, the Model S, the title for 2013. This is an especially momentous occasion for the much maligned automaker because in the prestigious award’s 64 year history, this is the first time an entirely electric vehicle has won. What makes this more remarkable is that the voting wasn’t even close. It was the first time “in memory” that all of the award’s 11 voters unanimously agreed on a winner.

The Model S beat out stiff competition from 25 other models including the Porche 911, BMW 3 Series, and Lexus GS. Motor Trend heaped praise on the Model S, stating that “It drives like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive. But it’s also as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius.”

The 4,766 pound car is able to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in four seconds, has a top speed of 133 mph and realizes the electric equivalent of 118 miles per gallon of gas. The Model S, which starts at about $ 57,000, is capable of traveling 265 miles on a single charge, the most for any mass-produced electric vehicle, and carrying seven people if furnished with the optional two rear facing seats.  Because the Model S does not have a traditional engine, both the “engine compartment” and the trunk can be used for storage. Editor-at-large, Angus MacKenzie wrote “At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you just happen to plug in to refuel.”

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, said “Our aspiration with the Model S was to show that an electric car truly can be better than any gasoline car. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than winning Motor Trend’s car of the Year by unanimous decision.”

Though this award is a great achievement for Tesla, it has faced many difficulties in its relatively short existence. Production setbacks and a recall plagued Tesla’s first offering, The Tesla Roadster, a sports car that had its production discontinued in early 2012 after 2,500 automobiles were produced. Let’s hope Tesla has learned from the mistakes that beset the Roadster.

As of now, 500 Model S sedans have been sold and an additional 2,700 are set to be delivered to buyers by the end of the year. Tesla projects an additional 20,000 Model S sedans will be produced throughout 2013, making their current offering the most aggressive product launch in the automaker’s history.

If Mr. Musk gets this right, sales flourish and the Model S achieves widespread consumer adoption, it would pave the road for the development Tesla’s cheaper options and signal a huge breakthrough for both Tesla and the electric car industry in the US as a whole.

A little taste of what the Model S has to offer from the guys at Automobile Magazine.

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