Tesla Model S, Roadster

Tesla Model S named Automobile of the Year by Automobile Magazine

Start-up
automaker Tesla Motors has won a prestigious award for the company’s
first self-designed self-manufactured electric car, the Tesla Model S.

One
of America’s top automobile magazines, er Automobile Magazine, has
awarded it’s top honor, Automobile of the Year 2013, to a brand new
electric car, the Tesla Model S. That’s a big win for the start-up
automobile manufacturer, Tesla Motors, on its first self-designed
self-manufactured car. In winning this endorsement the Model S beat out
“real” candidates like the Suburu BRZ or Porsche Boxtser, and won what
we can only call gushing praise from the editors of that magazine.

The Tesla Model S is the first car designed fully by Tesla’s own
engineers. The company’s previous car, the Tesla Roadster, was
essentially an electric conversion built on top of a Lotus Elise
chassis. The Model S is, on the other hand, a luxury sedan, that can
seat up to 7 people (depending on the options chosen), carry a
prodigious amount of cargo thanks to trunks in both the rear and front, drive on electric power for an amazing 265 miles, fully recharge in about an hour at the appropriate charging station,
and deliver a 0-60 miles/hr time of 4.3 seconds. Musk has said the
company’s goal with the Model S was to deliver the best car ever, that
happens to be electric. The Automobile Magazine editors note this drew
healthy skepticism (or outright hostility) because manufacturing a car
is hard, and many clearly thought an upstart from Silicon Valley
wouldn’t be able to pull off the things Elon Musk and Tesla Motors have
promised. To not only develop a class-leading sport sedan, but it would
have an electric drive train more advanced than other automakers were
delivering.

That’s the criteria the Automobile Magazine editors say they had for
evaluating the Model S. Did it live up to Musk’s bold brash claims?

What did they find? That the Model S simply blew away the
competition. “It’s the performance that won us over,” said Automobile
Magazine editor-in-chief Jean Jennings. “The crazy speed builds silently
and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us
endangering our licenses.”

They tested a Signature Performance Model S, meaning that it was
tuned up a bit, and had a beefier electric motor, than the regular Model
S. The 416 HP electric motor delivers the 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds,
but they said the raw performance metric simply is inadequate to
describe what it actually feels like. The editors wrote about how
“alarming” it was for such a “big car” to accelerate so quickly and
quietly, and that the Model S is “silly quick” and completely not at all
like driving a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.

(See Tesla Model S smokes the Tesla Roadster at REFUEL 2012 electric car race for an example)

It was more than just the performance that won them
over. There are a number of touches to the interior design elements.
Tesla lead designer Franz von Holzhausen is quoted saying “We turned a
lot of preconceived notions on their head and said, ‘Why does it have to
be that way?'” The Automobile Magazine editors point out that nearly
every new car claims to be revolutionary, but they felt the Model S
actually felt like it was, leaving the editors “reaching outside the
automotive lexicon to describe it” and finding a metaphor like “It
reminds me of the first time I used an iPhone.”

Some of the revolutionary design elements they point to are: The
flush door handles that pop out to meet your touch; That the arrangement
of drive train components left oodles of space to make the cabin feel
airy and spacious, while offering both front and rear cargo areas; The
enormous 17″ display in the center console, with its amazing features
that include the ability to surf the Internet with a web browser; and
the Panoramic roof that’s controlled by an app running on the center
console.

This is the kind of car which arises from having a clean sheet of
paper, rather than a hundred years of history and entrenched ways of
doing things. At the same time, while Tesla was able to design from a
clean sheet of paper, the company hired a team of engineers from all
over the automobile industry to do that design.

Automobile Magazine also gave the Model S high marks for its
performance as an electric car. Unlike prior electric cars they’d
tested, all of which required shorter test routes and special handling,
the Model S was treated like any other car. That happened to be
electric. That meant they plugged the car in at night, then drove it
hard the next day.

With awarding the Model S with this honor, the editors recognize that
Tesla might not make it to become a financially viable company. What
they are saying with the award, is that Tesla Motors deserves to
succeed. That the company has managed to blend the Silicon Valley
start-up atmosphere, with automobile manufacturing expertise, and
deliver on the bold promises Elon Musk made.

Source: Automobile Magazine

Originally published at TorqueNews: http://www.torquenews.com/1075/tesla-model-s-named-automobile-year-automobile-magazine

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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