While speaking at the Cleantech Forum Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors confirmed that its upcoming Model S family electric car will support 3rd party apps on cars large 17" center screen.

17" LCD touchscreen plays a major role on central console from the upcoming Model S.According to information given, Model S features a 12" screen as a central dashboard and a large vertically-positioned 17" display, both powered by nVidia Tegra. Elon expressed his wishes to see developers jumping on the bandwagon and developing apps for Model S, a $49,000 family electric vehicle scheduled to debut in 2012. The company is using nVidia’s own Automotive Linux distribution featuring Vibrante framework.

The idea of apps for cars isn’t new and the car industry has been toying with the idea ever way before the first iPhone. However, the inertia and manpower requirements delayed that idea onto half-baked concepts such as Ford Sync AppLink which is nothing more than a smartphone bridge.

Continental’s AutoLinq shows promise, but we’ve been seeing the concept since CES 2007 and still aren’t impressed with it.

On the other hand, smartphone makers have been catching up. For example, HTC features a separate user interface for use in cars – offering Sense UI experience to drivers as well. We’ll see what apps will 3rd party developers create, but the biggest weight lies on Tesla Motors, since the installed user base of Model S cars will be small, and we cannot expect to charge $50 for an app which sells for $4.99 on App Store or Android Market.

Still, it is good to see car industry moving forward. We wish Tesla Motors all the luck in the world with Model S. The world needs real usable electric cars. And why these usable electric cars wouldn’t feature – apps?