It couldn’t have been easy to pick and I definitely don’t envy them the task of doing so, but after testing more than 100 vehicles, Yahoo Autos announced that they have named the Tesla Model S the 2013 “Car of the Year.” Upon its introduction in 2012, the Model S became the second all-electric car and the first luxury sedan marketed by Tesla Motors. Tesla’s original vehicle was the Tesla Roadster sports car, which they debuted in 2008 and has sold out in the U.S—at least until the introduction of the next generation, which is scheduled for 2014. The company itself was founded in 2003 in the Silicon Valley neighborhood Menlo Park, and is named after Serbian-American electrical engineer and physicist, Nikola Tesla.
About the Model S
Intended to be more practical and attainable than the Roadster sports car, the Model S competes with the likes of BMW’s 5 Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Audi’s A6. It has a starting MSRP of $57,400, which is about $60,000 less than the 2011 Roadster’s. While the Roadster seats only two, the Model S has room for up to seven passengers and comes with the option of pre-installed car seats for children. While the Tesla Roadster’s chassis is borrowed from Lotus, Tesla manufactures the Model S in its entirety. The luxury sedan is assembled at Tesla’s Fremont, California assembly plant.
Interested customers have the choice of three different battery packs from Tesla, a 40 kWh, 60 kWh, or a 85 kWh. According to Tesla, owners can expect a range of about 300 miles out of the largest battery pack when it is fully charged, a 200 mile range with the 60 kWh pack, and a 160 mile range with the smallest pack. All three packs take about 8 hours to charge, though Tesla says a quick charge can be done in as little as thirty minutes with a supercharger—unavailable with the 40 kWh battery pack.
Techies won’t be disappointed by the Model S, but that’s to be expected when the brain power behind it is coming from Silicon Valley. In the interest of aerodynamics, the door handles of the Model S retreat into the door when they aren’t in use—certainly one of the car’s more unique features. Another one of its unique features is that occupants can move the power front seats in eight different directions. The navigational, climate, and audio systems are controlled from a center console 17-inch touchscreen, and it goes without saying, but the feel you get in the driver’s seat of the Model S is decidedly more Jetsons than Flinstones.
With an environmental footprint that’s less than that of a Prius, you’d expect that it would look—well, like a Prius. However, the exterior design of the Model S certainly doesn’t scream “EV!” Quite the opposite is true in fact. The sleek lines of the Model S give it a modern yet classic look that allows it to seem right at home parked among the current offerings of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Audi. 19-inch wheels come standard on the EV, as does a panoramic sunroof.