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Tesla: Miss America of Autos

“She’s a show stopper…she’s a jaw dropper…she’s burning hot like fire!  She’s my Miss America!”  

Tesla is on fire right now! (And I mean that in a good way).  If cars had a Miss America pageant,  Miss America Electric Vehicle 2013 would definitely be the Tesla Model S.  She’s got the personality and the looks. Also, Tesla, the ten-year long shot, made a profit—this is better than the underdog winning the Miss America pageant!  Consumer Reports recently gave the Model S a glowing review: “[the Tesla Model S] performed better, or just as well overall, as any other vehicle—of any kind—ever tested by Consumer Reports.”  She also received a score of 99/100.  Wow.  She must have nailed that dance routine.  Electric vehicles (EVs) have had some trouble getting out of the gate the past few years—so this review bodes well for the start-up and gives some hope to the EV cause.

The Tesla Model S is still very expensive and does require some more infrastructure planning in order to make it a serious “every-day American driver,” but the sedan is starting to look like the “It girl”--oops, I mean car--of green transportation.  So what is different about the Tesla that is making it eclipse other EVs?  How did Tesla clinch such a great review and why is she taking the auto world by storm?  I’m not an engineer, thus I will not regale you on its potentially superior features that blow its competitors out of the park, but I would like to talk about Tesla’s design.

Compared to some of the EVs manufactured by the mass-market brands, the Tesla looks like a car.  It looks like a sedan.  It looks normal...but has some panache.  Some other EVs (note: these are EVs—not HEVs) have taken their green slogans of “the next generation of transportation” to another level -- populating lots with some uber-innovative looking cars.  For example, take the Nissan Leaf -- was this built for the Cat in the Hat? -- and the Smart Car Fortwo Electric Drive that resembles a wedge of cake and would have zero chance against a truck in an accident.  The Prius shape has been copied far and wide (e.g., 2014 Cadillac ELR Plug in and the 2010 Honda Insight). Long story short, a lot of designers see the word “hybrid” or “electric” in front of the word “car” and think, “Okay, Captain Jean-Luc Picard needs to blend in driving this in Star Trek.” Wrong.  If you want to woo buyers from the bread and butter of transportation -- the gas-powered car -- you need to start with some baby steps.

Instead of creating an EV from the style future, Tesla created an EV that at least looks like it belongs in a present-day garage -- but with some cool that would even receive a nod of approval from Danny Zuko. The Model S has stylistic details similar to some of the “velvety” luxury brands: Jaguar and Aston Martin. That front grille? Very Aston Martin DBS and Jaguar XJ. That rear? Looks Jaggy XF to me!   The new and popular Ford Fusion hybrid also has some of these style details… classy sells — and who doesn’t want luxury?  Tesla is selling “green luxury” and has a classy design to prove it. Congratulations on your win, Tesla, and be sure to thank your mother and Elon Musk when they interview you.