Tesla Model S snags Motor Trend's 'Car of the Year'

A Model S Alpha and Roadster on the

A Model S Alpha and Roadster on the road in this handout photo. (Credit: Tesla Motors)

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Tesla Motors Inc.'s battery-powered Model S sedan was named 2013 "Car of the Year" by Motor Trend magazine, a first for the maker of electric vehicles led by Elon Musk that's working to accelerate production.

Tesla's 2013 Model S, with a $57,400 base price, beat out competitors including Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's new 3-Series sedan, Ford Motor Co.'s Fusion sedan, Honda Motor Co.'s revamped Accord and Toyota Motor Corp.'s 2013 Lexus GS, Motor Trend said today in a statement. The magazine said it's the first time the award went to an electric vehicle.

"It is a testament not only to the luxury sedan and electric car segment, but to American engineering overall," Edward Loh, editor-in-chief of Motor Trend, said in the statement. "To be the first car in the 64-year history of the award to be powered by something other than gasoline must mean it is very special."

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based carmaker, named for inventor Nikola Tesla, is racing to expand Model S production at its plant in Fremont, California, after saying in September that 2012 deliveries wouldn't reach an initial 5,000-unit goal. Tesla has said that next year it will build at least 20,000 of the cars and add the Model X electric sport-utility vehicle in 2014.

Tesla rose less than 1 percent to $31.30 in extended trading at 7:11 p.m. New York time after the announcement. The shares gained 2.5 percent to $31.07 at the New York close and have increased 8.8 percent this year.

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