Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year for 2013 might strike many as a surprising choice.
Of all the cars on the market today, the magazine selected one that’s in the hands of only a tiny number of owners: Tesla Motors‘ (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S. It marks the first time the magazine has selected a vehicle powered by anything other than an internal combustion engine for the annual honor.
Noting that the Model S “drives like a sports car” that’s “as smoothly effortless as a Rolls Royce” but as versatile as General Motors‘ (NYSE:GM) Chevy Equinox, Motor Trend heaped praise on the car for being “more efficient” than Toyota‘s (NYSE:TM) Prius.
That fuel efficiency translated to 118 miles per gallon-equivalent during a test drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and 74.5 mpg-e during the overall 313 miles of Motor Trend testing.
The magazine cited the car’s light aluminum frame, sleek design, roomy cabin and interactive touchscreen display, which offers the driver access to navigation, sound and climate-control systems, as well as providing updates on the car’s internal systems.
In September, the company revealed manufacturing difficulties were producing delivery delays and slashed its revenue estimates for the year.
However, last week the company reported high-than-expected third-quarter revenue and accelerating production of the Model S. Company founder Elon Musk indicated that Tesla Motors will reach an annual production rate of 20,000 Model S vehicles within five weeks, Bloomberg noted.