Electric Vehicle Milestone: Tesla Model S Wins Car of the Year

, research and deputy director, Clean Vehicles | November 15, 2012, 10:00 am EDT
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It’s unanimous, at least amongst the judges at Motor Trend Magazine. The all-electric Tesla Model S has captured the coveted Motor Trend Car of Year Award, following a similar declaration from Automobile Magazine.

For a start-up automaker to win these accolades with only their second production model, regardless of the powertrain – is impressive. The Model S was up against some stiff competition, including the Porsche 911 and Boxster, as well as the Chevy Malibu, newly redesigned Ford Fusion, and new Ford C-MAX Hybrid.

Tesla is basking in the glory. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, has gone so far as declaring Tesla as emerging on the far side of the proverbial “valley of death.”  That may be a little ambitious even for Tesla. But the award does signify a significant step for the electric vehicles. Namely:

Electric cars can compete head to head with internal combustion engine cars – and win.

To me, that bodes well for the future of electric vehicles (EVs). But in the near term, electric cars still need support. Tesla is making a splash in the high-end segment, and it has been a good year for plug-in electric vehicles in general. But EVs face continuing challenges to making in-roads into the larger car market, from higher initial costs to limited charging infrastructure. These challenges are not insurmountable, but government support is needed to build a successful and self-sustaining electric vehicle industry.

I and others have referred to the evolution of the electric vehicle as being similar to a marathon rather than a sprint. But perhaps a more apt analogy is the steeplechase. It’s not as long as a marathon, but there are hurdles (28 barriers and seven water hazards to be precise) to overcome along the way. There are more hurdles to overcome to increase the prominence of electric vehicles in the automotive world, but at least one barrier seems to now be less of a concern. That is – the barrier know as the automotive critic.

What do you think? Is the Tesla Model S winning Motor Trend Car of Year a significant milestone for EVs?

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  • Richard Solomon

    Since the Tesla S is way out of my price range, i cannot comment on its recent award. I have been a very satisfied Prius owner for almost 5 years now, however. I highly recommend it to others whenever I am asked.

    And my wife and I plan on purchasing the next generation of hybrid or maybe an all electric car in the future when it comes time to replace her vehicle.