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Tesla CEO: Model S will support third-party apps

Does your car have an app for that? If Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has his way, it will.

The electric-car maker’s CEO said at a conference today in San Francisco that the much-hyped Model S electric sedan will support third-party apps and text-to-voice capabilities.

Musk made the announcement during the question-and-answer portion of his keynote speech at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco. He was wearing jeans and a plaid shirt in a standing-room-only crowd full of suits.

“We want people to develop car-specific applications [for the Model S],” he told the audience. “And text-to-speech technology can address some of the issues with driver distraction.”

With its large 17-inch touchscreen console, car fans and investors have long suspected that third-party apps might be part of the Model S plan, but Wednesday’s announcement was the first acknowledgement from Musk that the company is courting a developer community.

The 39-year-old entrepreneur dodged questions about production schedule and the controversial lead-up to Tesla’s IPO, which he described as “fun.”

Musk also said he was optimistic about SolarCity, the solar-panel installation company where he is chairman. He said he believed that there was a “good chance” that the company would put more solar panels on homes in the next three years than have been cumulatively installed to date.

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