NVIDIA Tegra-Powered Model S Racking Up Car-of-the-Year Titles

by Danny Shapiro

Call it the world’s largest tablet computer. And boy is it fun to drive.

Just ask the editors of Motor Trend, which just became the latest automotive publication to name the NVIDIA-powered Tesla Model S its car of the year. This week’s award follows similar honors earlier this month from the editors of Automobile Magazine.

We can’t claim credit for the car’s grippy handling or the nearly instantaneous acceleration provided by Tesla’s electric motor. And, let’s face it, these are the qualities that help win awards from automobile magazines.

That said, the Model S’s Tegra-powered infotainment system and digital instrument cluster are getting rave reviews from the speed-addicted automotive journalists who have been praising Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motor’s new sedan.

Tesla's NVIDIA-powered display.
Tesla’s NVIDIA-powered displays are winning praise from automotive critics.

Here’s what Motor Trend had to say…

“[A]ll judges were impressed with the Tesla’s unique user interface, courtesy of the giant touch screen in the center of the car that controls everything from the air-conditioning to the nav system to the sound system to the car’s steering, suspension, and brake regeneration settings. The system means the Model S interior is virtually button-free, and the car has been effectively future-proofed: More functionality is only a software update away.”

…and here’s what Automobile Magazine’s editors wrote:

“An absolutely enormous, seventeen-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard and features the controls for everything from the radio to the steering effort. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but here it works wonderfully. Oh, yeah, and you can surf the Web on it, as well. “We turned a lot of preconceived notions on their head and said, ‘Why does it have to be that way?'” says Tesla lead designer Franz von Holzhausen. Of course, practically every new car claims to be revolutionary. But this one actually feels like it is, to the point that many of us were reaching outside the automotive lexicon to describe it.”

Clearly, Tesla Motors has built a great car, and they’re just getting started. In the third quarter of 2012, Tesla built 350 Model S vehicles in its Fremont, Calif., factory. In the fourth quarter, it plans to build more than 2,500. And that’s just the beginning. As more of these super electric vehicles hit the road, Tesla is planning to build a network of charging stations across the United States. The company also plans to build approximately 50 retail stores over the next several years.

What’s more, the Model X — a crossover vehicle based on the Model S — will begin production in 2014. We can hardly wait to see how many more awards these NVIDIA-powered super-cars will win.