Automobile Magazine said Tesla is the Apple of the auto world

Automobile Magazine has named Tesla's Model S its 2013 Automobile of the Year after having the opportunity to drive the EV and chat with CEO Elon Musk.

Car Specs

Here's a quick rundown of some key Model S specs:
  • 40 kWh, 60 kWh, and 85 kWh battery pack options
  • Three phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor (puts out 416 HP and hits 60 MPH in 4.3 seconds)
  • 443 lb-ft of torque
  • Drive inverter with variable frequency drive and regenerative braking
  • Single speed fixed gear
  • Aluminum body with boron steel elements
  • 10 kWh on-board charger
  • 17-inch capacitive touchscreen for media, vehicle controls, communication
  • keyless entry and door handles that extend to your reach
Why the Model S?

Automobile Magazine had many great things to say about the Model S after driving the 85 kWh version. But the vehicle's speed was one of the top highlights.

Actually, the Model S can blow away almost anything. "It's the performance that won us over," admits 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." Our Model S was of Signature Performance spec, which means its AC induction motor puts out 416 hp and that it blasts to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Even those numbers -- positively absurd for a large sedan that uses not a lick of gasoline -- fail to communicate how crazy it actually feels.

Aside from driving really, really fast, the Model S is aesthetically pleasing (more so up close rather than far away, according to Automobile Magazine). The interior is what especially grabbed them, as well as slick options like the extended door handles to the 17-inch display inside.

Climb into the Tesla for the first time, and you're liable to spend a few minutes searching for the ignition button. You won't find it -- the car turned on when you sat down, and it's now waiting for you to shift into drive and glide away. The cabin is airy, modern, spacious, and impeccably trimmed in leather and wood. A flat battery pack and a rear-mounted motor yield a completely flat floor and a large, useful center-console storage area (the Model S uses a column-mounted shift lever supplied by Mercedes-Benz).

An absolutely enormous, seventeen-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard and features the controls for everything from the radio to the steering effort. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but here it works wonderfully. Oh, yeah, and you can surf the Web on it, as well.

Of course, electric range is a huge factor when it comes to deciding which EV is best. You don't want to get caught on the road low on charge (and without a charging station). The 85 kWh model earned a 265-mile driving range from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with lower versions grabbing a 160-mile window sticker.

The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving. Want to take the family from Washington, D.C., to New York? No problem. Stop for an hour at one of Tesla's Supercharger stations being installed throughout the country, and you can travel on to Boston. The even bigger psychological advantage, though, is the freedom to go about your daily life, with all its spontaneity and last-minute shopping trips, without the fear of running low.

Tesla's Model S: The Apple of the Auto World?

Automobile Magazine compared Tesla to Apple, saying that the EV maker is the Apple equivalent of the auto industry with its modern, luxurious and innovative products.

There's much about the Model S, which Musk himself refers to as "Tesla's Macintosh," that has an innovative, Apple flavor. As with the tech giant's slickest products, there's a sense that even the smallest details here have been lavished with attention in order to be as distinctive and elegant as possible. To open the panoramic sunroof, for instance, one brings up an overhead image of the car on the touchscreen and literally drags the roof as far back as desired. Why didn't anyone think of that before? Then there's Tesla's controversial but intriguing strategy of distributing its products through company-owned boutiques rather than conventional dealers. It's being run by George Blankenship, who set up those posh Apple stores.

Automobile Magazine even went as far as saying that Musk is the Steve Jobs of the EV auto industry.

Finally, it's hard to ignore that Tesla has in Musk a Steve Jobs-like figure, a relentless leader who guides the company's direction. "They're both brilliant, both thinking about things that other people won't be thinking about for twenty years," Blankenship says.

Pricing & Availability

The Model S' superior range and luxurious features come at a high price. The 40 kWh base model starts at $57,400 while the 85 kWh version starts at $105,400. However, the Model S is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit in the U.S.

Around 13,000 customers have paid a $5,000 minimum fee for a Model S reservation, but only 250 have shipped. This is largely due to issues with increased production. However, Musk announced last month that Model S production had ramped up.

"Our production rate in the last week of September was roughly 100 vehicles, four times greater than our production in the first week of September as we overcame supply constraints," said Musk. "I am pleased to report that we completed production of 359 vehicles last quarter (delivering over 250 of those to customers) and have already made our 500th vehicle body.

"While we are indeed a few weeks later than we would like, this is not perhaps a terrible outcome for a product as advanced as the Model S, particularly given that Tesla is doing manufacturing of full vehicles for the first time with a new team and suppliers."

Source: Automobile Magazine

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