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Tesla Model S Loses 10-Best Status to Chevy Bolt and the Reason Is Classic Tesla

The Chevy Bolt bumped the Tesla Model S off this awards list, but the reason is the real story.

Car and Driver’s annual 10-Best Cars list is a valuable marketing tool for automakers, and an interesting read for fans and car owners. When the Tesla Model S earned a spot in 2016 pretty much all of the EV-advocacy media covered the story including Inside EVs, EV Obsession, Gas2 and others. Mainstream automotive publications like Autoblog also made it a point to do a story on the award. This year, the Tesla Model S was replaced on the list. The Tesla Model S may have won, but Tesla could not, or would not, provide a vehicle for testing. That has us wondering why, and if Tesla not supplying a car has any significance. As Car and Driver put it, “The Bolt was also the only EV in this year’s test. We would love to tell you how it compared with the pricier and glitzier Tesla Model S, but despite our repeated requests, Tesla refused to supply us with a car and thereby failed to defend its 10Best berth.”

On the “No, it does not matter” side of the issue, Tesla fans probably don’t care much about the 10-Best list, particularly since Tesla’s Model S earned a spot a year ago. Tesla has always avoided most of the automotive press anyway, and this is not a new thing. Furthermore, the Model 3 is really the big news at Tesla now, with the Model S and Model X having had their time in the spotlight.

The other side of the story is also worth considering. According to Inside EVs, Tesla only delivered 1,650 cars in the U.S. in October. That is a ridiculously low number, even for Tesla. As always, the excuse will be something to the effect of “Tesla shut down its line so it can make a million cars next month, year, decade, etc.” Or the Tesla fans will say Inside EVs is wrong, or that the cars went to China or Upper Scabbobia, or to some other far-off market aside from the U.S. All interesting reasons for Tesla to not be able to produce cars, but growing a bit stale as Tesla continues to say that it will soon be making 500,000 cars per year, but not right now.

Another consideration is that Tesla would have liked to send a car to the media, but since it is offering gas-burning rentals to Model S owners as loaners when they come in for repairs, it can’t spare them to chase contests. This is a fact that owners have pointed out on many occasions on Tesla forums and in on-line clubs.

One more possibility is that Tesla had a press car, but it cost over the $80K limit. Despite Tesla’s insistance that its cars have a low starting price, there isn’t much evidence that it actually sells many of those trims. Many of the press vehicles Tesla has supplied in the past were well over $100K. One other possibility is Tesla was afraid the Model S would lose to the Bolt in a head to head matchup where value was a consideration. (More on page 2)

Tesla doesn’t really talk to the press, and there are no regional Tesla folks to reach out to about such things. We will never know why Tesla could not supply a car for testing and consideration for this award. If you have an opinion about why Tesla opted out feel free to share it.


Terry Robb (not verified)    November 28, 2016 - 8:53PM

I think Tesla is going through a lot of retooling and new production lines in the battery plant and Fremont plant. This will most likely take 2 yrs to accomplish. As for loaners there is not an EV out there like the model S or X just gas guzzlers. If I had a model S I would not like a Spark EV or a prius. Maybe some of the Tesla service stations should have Spark to see who would use it. Maybe later there will be model 3s for a loaner. As for auto news media they are really biased toward gas guzzlers and big oil.

Charlotte Omoto (not verified)    December 11, 2016 - 5:50PM

In reply to by Terry Robb (not verified)

I agree, most auto media seem to be biased against EVs and Tesla. Any time I've taken my car for service, I've gotten the latest Model S as loaner. In fact, I think its a good strategy since I want a newer one!