The Tesla Model S has scored a major accolade from motoring mag Motor Trend, which has named it the best car in its 70 year history.
But wait – it’s not the latest version of the Model S that has won the “Ultimate Car of the Year” accolade – it is the 2013 model.
Beating US auto market mainstays such as Chevy, Totoya and Cadillac, the Model S first made motoring legend status in as Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2013, for its impact on the auto market, scoring outstanding marks in criteria such as design, performance, engineering excellence, efficiency, value and safety.
Since first handing out motoring awards in 1949, Motor Trend has awarded 92 vehicles its most prestigious award, and in celebration of its 70 year history decided this year to award the vehicle it considers to have had the most impact out of all the vehicles awarded to date.
As Motor Trend puts it: “The mere fact the Tesla Model S exists at all is a testament to innovation and entrepreneurship, the very qualities that once made the American automobile industry the largest, richest, and most powerful in the world.
“That the 11 judges unanimously voted the first vehicle designed from the wheels up by a fledgling automaker the 2013 MotorTrend Car of the Year should be cause for celebration. America can still make things.”
It’s an all-encompassing statement that reflects the impact Tesla has – and is – having on the world as a whole.
As Tesla’s first production vehicle, the Model S has shaken up the global auto market and paved the way for Tesla’s two other models – the Model X permium electric SUV, and the “mass-market” Model 3 sedan.
Other vehicles shortlisted for the Ultimate Car of the Year award included the 1949 Cadillac lineup, the 1955 Chevrolet lineup, the 1968 Pontiac GTO, the 1972 Citroën SM, the 1986 Mazda RX-7, the 1996 Dodge Caravan, and the 2004 Toyota Prius.
Motor Trend gave a nod to the Toyota Prius in its announcement, acknowledging the hybrid’s role in kickstarting a trend towards cleaner, greener vehicles.
“It can be argued, as we still are today, that the Tesla Model S wouldn’t exist without the Prius.
“If Toyota hadn’t made green cool, the nascent Tesla Motors—founded one year before the second-generation Prius was named our 2004 Car of the Year—might never have sold an electrified Lotus, much less create a new car that would revolutionize an industry.”
The first right-hand drive versions of the Model S arrived in Australia in late 2014, where the fledgling EV market meant that just 54 sales in the first quarter of 2015 had Drive calling it “the most popular electric car on sale nationally.”
Bridie Schmidt is associate editor for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.