Tesla Model S Declared Car Of The Year By Motor Trend

The new Tesla Model S has received a extraordinary accolade: it is the first electric car to win Motor Trend's prestigious Car of the Year award.

(Tesla Model S, according to Motor Trend)

At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.

Tesla claims it has 250 patents covering the Model S, and more pending. The body is light, thanks to its all-aluminum construction, yet strong and stiff. The front and rear suspension are also mostly aluminum. At the rear are extruded rear suspension links that provide the strength of forgings at much lower cost, while up front are hollow-cast front knuckles that weigh 25 percent less than a conventional knuckle of similar strength.

The electric motor sits between the rear wheels, contributing greatly to the 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution. The motor is an AC-induction type, the basic principles of which were demonstrated in the 1880s by Nikola Tesla himself, and it doesn't need expensive rare earth metals.

Tesla offers three lithium-ion battery packs for the Model S -- 40-kW-hr, 60-kW-hr, and 85-kW-hr -- that are claimed to provide ranges of 140, 200, and 265 miles, respectively. The base 85-kW-hr powertrain delivers a stout 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, while the performance version makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft.The battery packs are assembled at Tesla's plant in Fremont, California, using Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes. Situated under the floor, the battery pack is a stressed member that further improves torsional rigidity, and helps lower the car's center of gravity to just 17.5 inches, about the same as a Ford GT's.

Science fiction writers did not create the idea of electric cars; electric vehicles of different types (2,3 and 4 wheels) were in use in Europe in the late 19th century. Electric vehicles also had a brief vogue with well-to-do buyers in large cities, who weren't bothered by their relatively short range, considering it a reasonable trade-off for quiet, odor-free operation.

In his 1894 novel A Journey in Other Worlds, however, John Jacob Astor IV painted the following utopian picture of a transportation system that used electric phaetons which may seem quaint today, particularly given the speed and handling characteristics of the Tesla Model S:

"The electric phaetons, as those for high speed are called, have three and four wheels, and weigh, including battery and motor, five hundred to four thousand pounds. With hollow but immensely strong galvanically treated aluminum frames and pneumatic or cushion tires, they run at thirty-five and forty miles an hour on country roads, and attain a speed over forty on city streets, and can maintain this rate without recharging for several days. They can therefore roam over the roads of the entire hemisphere, from the fertile valley of the Peace and grey shores of Hudson Bay, to beautiful Lake Nicaragua, the River Plate, and Patagonia, improving man by bringing him close to Nature, while they combine the sensations of coasting with the interest of seeing the country well...

"...we feel that `Excelsior!' is indeed our motto."

Be sure to read the full review at Motor Trend, then head over to Tesla and reserve your Tesla Model S!

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