Tesla has only delivered a couple of hundred of its new Model S sedans since it went on sale earlier this year, but Motor Trend magazine got its hands on one of them and named it 2013 Car of the Year.
It’s the second major COTY award the battery-powered Model S has won, after Motor Trend’s sister publication Automobile Magazine granted it the honor earlier this month.
In explaining its decision, Motor Trend praised the $58,570 Model S for its performance and style as well as its functional hatchback packaging and range between charges, which is EPA rated at140, 200 or 265 miles depending on the size of the battery pack it is equipped with. A top of the line model costs up to $107,350.
The publication also noted Tesla’s commitment to building a network of quick charging stations that can provide up to 160 miles of charge in 30 minutes.
“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,” the magazine said.
The Model S was developed with a combination of private investment and a $465 million loan provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. Tesla planned to deliver 5,000 cars by the end of 2012, but after a slower than expected start up of production now estimates it will be closer to 3,000 cars, with 20,000 expected in 2013.
Largely a respected arbiter of technical and design achievement, the Motor Trend Car of the Year award has been a mixed bag as a predictor of market success since it was instituted in 1949. While it has been given to many unequivocal hits like the 1986 Ford Taurus and 2004 Toyota Prius, the 1983 Renault Alliance and 2011 Chevrolet Volt also rank among its recipients.