Tesla Model S crash test result misses top safety rating by IIHS

02 February, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Alicia Barber
  • Tesla, BMW fall short in electric vehicle crash tests

With those criteria in mind, the IIHS reports that the Model S earned a rating of good in all of its evaluations, except for the small overlap front crash test, which simulates running into a narrow object.

The IIHS conducted five tests which included roof strength, moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, and head restraints. The poor performance there is actually a side-effect of the car's longer range: Tesla added more batteries and thus increased the weight of the vehicle, IIHS argues, and thus even though the P100D has the same roof as its lighter range-mates, it will do worse in the vital strength-to-weight ratio that judges how well occupants might do in a rollover situation.

"It's a pretty narrow miss on Tesla's part", said David Zuby, chief research officer for the insurer-funded group. As a result, the Model S earned only an "Acceptable" rating in that area instead of the "Good" required to make it a Top Safety Pick.

Electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors has garnered negative publicity over the past year for crashes involving its self-driving technology, at least one of which was fatal, but more recently, its Model S performed poorly in an ordinary crash test, according to safety ratings released Wednesday.

Two other cars did receive a Top Safety Pick rating - the Chevy Volt and new Toyota Prius Prime.

The government hasn't yet reported crash-test results for the i3.

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The BMW i3 also had a problem in the small frontal overlap crash scenario: the vehicles couldn't fully protect passengers in the rear seats. In the Tesla crash evaluation, the driver (dummy) slipped out of the belt and the dummy's head impacted the steering wheel hard.

Tesla told IIHS that it made a production change on January 23 to address the head-contact problem and IIHS will test the updated Model S for small overlap protection as soon as it can be delivered.

Where BMW's dedicated electric vehicle came up short was in its head restraints, which the IIHS rates only as "Acceptable", due to their limited protection from whiplash in rear-impact tests. BMW's i3 electric vehicle came up short as well. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the 2017 models of Tesla and BMW and other automakers. Its headlights also earned only "acceptable" marks.

Ratings for crashworthiness and headlights are good, acceptable, marginal and poor.

IIHS plans to test the latest EV to enter the market, the Chevrolet Bolt, once it becomes widely available this year.

The Chevrolet Volt (top) and the Toyota Prius Prime (bottom) are 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award winners. Both of those cars are plug-in hybrids, whereas the Model S and i3 are true battery electric vehicles.

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