Futuristic electric vehicle maker Tesla has confirmed that its new sedan will support third party apps in the same manner as a smartphone.

The Model S, which is set for release next year, will join brands such as Ford, General Motors and Toyota, which have all recently launched systems that allow users to download third-party software to their vehicles.

The announcement was made March 17 at a clean technology conference by Tesla's boss Elon Musk, a co-founder of Paypal and already a Silicon Valley success story.

As Tesla is a firm with strong high-tech roots (it dubbed its latest Roadster '2.5', a nod to software naming convention) the inclusion of an app ecosystem is likely to significantly hot up the competition to build in-car apps, which can do everything from update Twitter and Facebook to display the weather or distract the driver at traffic lights.

The firm will be hoping it can emulate the runaway success of the Apple App Store - despite being an automaker, Tesla has been compared to Apple in the past, even hiring the computer firm's retail strategist to inject some cool into its high-street outlets.

It's also a sensible move for a firm which desperately needs to place next year's mass market Model S among more mainstream models in the eyes of consumers, who may only identify the Tesla brand with its $100,000 Roadster.

This week, General Motors revealed that consumer use of mobile apps for its OnStar telemetric system had surged, describing the take-up as an "overwhelming reaction" from customers.

Since OnStar apps were introduced in 2010, they have been downloaded by over 56,000 users, said GM, which said that it was adding a further 14 Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles from 2010 which would be able to use the apps.

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