Veteran auto publication Motor Trend has boldly hailed Tesla as the brand that defines American luxury today, overtaking brands like Cadillac and Lincoln in the process. The California-based electric car maker was able to accomplish this simply because among the automakers in the US today, it is the one that is looking forward, not simply looking at what rivals are doing.
During its heyday, Cadillac was esteemed as an American company that stood true to its slogan: “Standard of the World,” as shown in its iconic tailfin designs that ran parallel with the advent of the jet age in the late 1940s. Lincoln, on the other hand, pretty much epitomized the American way of building cars, with big engines, big bodies, and imaginative designs. During these times, Cadillac and Lincoln blazed the trail for American luxury automobiles, and their vehicles were amazing.
That is, until the two brands started emulating European luxury automakers. Over the past three decades, Cadillac’s vehicles pretty much turned into cars that were heavily inspired by companies like BMW. Lincoln ended up building rebadged versions of vehicles from Ford and Mercury. According to the 69-year-old publication, it was at this point that the “soul of American luxury escaped Detroit.” That soul has now settled in California, where electric car maker Tesla produces its vehicles.
Motor Trend notes that similar to Cadillac and Lincoln in their prime, Tesla is an American automaker that foreign rivals are trying to emulate. The publication cited several examples of this, including the Porsche Taycan, the Polestar 2, the Audi e-tron, and the Mercedes EQC. With technology being “the new luxury,” it is difficult to argue against Tesla, which leads the auto industry with tech as shown in its over-the-air software updates.
One thing that truly separates Tesla from the pack is its boldness in turning its back from convention. This is evident in the company’s designs for its vehicles, which were created from a clean sheet of paper, as well as from CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a hyper-automated car factory. Granted, some of these plans have resulted in trouble for the company (the Model 3’s “production hell” comes to mind), but Tesla has nonetheless managed to grow as a carmaker that makes some of the best, no-compromise electric vehicles in the market.
Daring, bold, and unapologetically different, Tesla presents the American auto industry with a company that has every characteristic of a trailblazer. It has earned its own set of scars over the years, and there are bound to be more in the future. But with every vehicle it launches, with every Gigafactory that is built, the company becomes just a bit more experienced, just a bit more refined. It has already forced larger automakers to take electric cars seriously, and if it continues at its current pace, it will likely disrupt other markets like the trucking and ride-sharing industry as well.
Motor Trend has acknowledged Tesla’s electric cars in the past. Back in December 2012, the publication awarded its prestigious Car of the Year Award to the Tesla Model S, noting that the all-electric car (which did not even have features like Autopilot then) was “proof positive that America can still make (great) things. Motor Trend racecar driver Randy Pobst was also instrumental in fine-tuning the capabilities of the “release version” of the Model 3 Performance’s Track Mode. After being tuned by Pobst, the Model 3 Performance was able to beat the track time of the 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia around the “Streets” of Willow Springs International Raceway in CA.