America. Just the word itself makes you think of peace, carefully considered actions, quiet efficiency and a willingness to make the world a better place. Then it makes you wonder why the United States is unable, or at least unwilling, to do all of these things.

That's why when one of the country's most-respected motoring publications this week named a fully-electric car its Car of the Year, it took me a bit by surprise. Sure, the Volt picked up lots of gold stars last year for its semi-hybrid cleverness, but this was Motor Trend. We're not talking about a publication that sits on the fence here - it celebrates unreasonable feats of automotive over-engineering with massive enthusiasm. It is, fairly or not, hardly what most would see as the go-to mag for electric vehicle love-ins.

The Tesla S is an impressive car, to say the least. It's beautifully designed, doesn't catch fire like the Fiskers, offers options that give up to 310kW of power and a range that stretches to an impressive 425km. Tech squillionaire Elon Musk, who created PayPal before building the Telsa Roadster - and building a company that proved a naysaying industry very wrong - has the smug satisfaction of someone who knew he was right all along. And now he's building rocketships.

Will this small "victory on paper" turn the tide and put more bums into electric car seats? Probably not, but it might underline to the average car-buying American masses that there might be a replacement for displacement after all. Electric cars - despite having been around since Year Dot - are in their commercial infancy, and the biggest challenge with getting buyers to convert to new ideas is always getting them to try it.

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