Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA)’s 2013 Model S Is a Game-Changer

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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has been a mind-boggling topic of late. From its seemingly overnight appearance in the auto industry, which no one believed a start-up company could break into, to its three-month price jump from less than $40 a share to more than $100, consumers and investors can’t get enough. Tesla and its founder, Elon Musk, have shaken up the industry with a revolutionary electric vehicle … or luxury vehicle … or is it both?

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)

Whatever its segment niche is, as long as the Model S backs up the hype, the future is bright for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), right? Perhaps that will be true, but automotive juggernauts Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) , General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) , and Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) will have a lot to say about that.

Let’s check out some of the details and see if Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s Model S will remain a bright spot in the industry, or if it will be just a flash in the pan.

Overview and expectations
Consumer Reports labeled the car as nearly perfect, and one of the best cars it’s ever tested — awarding the Model S a score of 99 out of 100. Practically its only fault, if you can call it that, is the recharge time the car needs after driving long distances — taking about six hours through a regular 240-volt outlet.

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s nimble and exhilarating electric sports car didn’t stop with just one award. It also took home Motor Trends “2013 Car of the Year.” It was the first vehicle in the award’s 64-year history to win without an internal combustion engine.

I know my saying “exhilarating electric sports car” might raise a few eyebrows. But consider that the sport-tuned Model S can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just 4.3 seconds — pretty darn quick. Earlier this year, Automobile arranged a test for its magazine, and the Model S topped a 560-horsepower BMW M5 in a race to 100 MPH.

“It’s the performance that won us over,” Automobile Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings had to say afterward, in the magazine’s January 2013 issue. “The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses.”

For some of us, it goes past what the Model S actually is, and more to what it represents. Detroit’s Big Three have all seen their share of successes, as well as disasters — more of the latter in recent years. While Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) has given us a reason to cheer a business that didn’t take taxpayer funds in a bailout, it hasn’t created anything truly revolutionary. Moreover, if two years ago we were asked which country’s automakers would have the next breakthrough vehicle, “America’s” probably wouldn’t have been the answer. Tesla changed that, and it has given Americans reason to be proud and say that we can still innovate greatness. Few companies can say that with conviction, but Tesla and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) both come to mind.

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