The Tesla Model S all-electric car has been named the Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year. This is the first time an all-electric vehicle has been so honored.
Tesla co-founder Elon Musk said, “The turning point will be when electric cars become the best product, and that’s the key for mass adoption.”
Tesla was founded in 2003 and began selling its first all-electric model, the $119,000 Roadster, in 2008. The Model S, with a sticker price of $49,900 after federal tax credit, is far more competitive with other all-electric and hybrid electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt.
Speaking to the press, Musk recounted the uncertain road Tesla has traveled to this point. “It’s difficult to create a car company of any kind,” he said. “An electric car adds additional difficulty and the economy didn’t make it any easier.”
Vice president for sales George Blankenship added, “Here’s the reason why everything we do is so hard — because everything we do is impossible.”
The Model S is powered by 40, 60 or 85 kilowatt-hour battery packs situated along the bottom of the vehicle’s frame. The positioning of the heavy battery cells give the Model S a low center of gravity. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Model S can operate 265 miles on a full charge, and can accelerate from 0 mph to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. The sporty Model S features kid-sized, rear-facing fold-out seats to accommodate seven passengers. The dash includes a 17-inch touchscreen control panel.
So does being named the Motor Trend Car of the Year mean the end of Tesla’s troubles? That remains to be seen. Some industry experts see an uphill battle for Tesla as it competes with industry giants like GM, Toyota, Ford and others. Instead of competing, they say Tesla’s future may be brighter as a supplier of all-electric powertrains and battery packs to those larger automakers. Musk said he hopes other automakers will “copy us and pursue electric car programs with greater vigor.”