At an event in New York City Monday evening, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that his company’s Model S sedan has been named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. The all-electric sedan, which I reviewed for Slate earlier this year, was a unanimous choice, beating out the Porsche 911, the new Ford Fusion, and the Honda Accord, among others, said Motor Trend Editor in Chief Ed Loh. This is the first time in the award’s 64-year history that it has gone to a car without an internal combustion engine. Loh said the award was based on the car’s overall excellence, not simply the fact that it’s electric. He pointed out to me that it’s the fastest American-built sedan on the market, posting 0-60 times as low as 3.9 seconds. Add in its handling, ultra-quiet motor, and the fact that it requires no fuel, and Loh said it was an easy pick for the honor.
Musk was typically unrestrained at the news, predicting people will look back on it as “a point at which the gears of history moved.” He said he hoped “that other car companies will in fact copy us and pursue their own electric car programs with greater vigor as a result of this award.” Tesla’s own next moves involve developing a more affordable model than the luxurious Model S, which starts at a hefty $57,400 for the base model before a $7,500 federal tax credit.
In an October presidential debate, Mitt Romney jeered that Tesla, Solyndra, and others were “losers” that had proven bad bets for loans from the Obama administration. Musk stayed silent then, but he couldn’t resist a little gloating on Monday. Recalling Romney’s remark that Tesla was a loser, he said, “In retrospect he was right about the object of that statement, but not the subject.”