Tesla Model S Falls Short of IIHS Top Safety Pick Rating

Posted February 02, 2017

For a vehicle to qualify for the Top Safety Pick award, IIHS said it must earn "good" ratings in all five crashworthiness tests - small overlap front, moderated overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats - and come with a front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating. The impact could result in injuries to the head and lower right leg during a collision.

For some reason, the IIHS made a decision to test electric vehicles together this year and compare their safety ratings based on their own crash tests. The organization will test the updated model at some time.

"One of the consequences of front to rear crashes is injury that people commonly refer to as whiplash and we're trying to make sure the seats and head restraints can prevent those kinds of injuries". Tesla uses a similar roof for its other Model S variants, but with the P100D having a larger battery pack than others, it could not get the "Good" and ended up with the "Acceptable".

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Tesla and BMW are aware of the problems and said they are fixing them.

"We expect to receive the highest possible rating in every category, making Model S eligible for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award", the spokesperson said. "Among small cars, the i3 is the only 2017 model that doesn't get a good rating". Although each Model S has the hardware for forward crash prevention, Tesla hasn't yet activated the software for all of its vehicles.

All received high marks, but only two earned the 2017 Top Safety Pick Plus Award - the Toyota Prius Prime and the Chevy Volt.

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The BMW i3 fell short in the head restraint test, which measures how well the auto protects an occupant's head in a rear crash. In fact, Tesla recently lengthened the side curtain airbags in order to improve performance in the small-overlap front crash test, but it obviously wasn't enough.

The IIHS evaluated this new 3 Series in December of 2016 receiving a "GOOD" rating in the tough small overlap crash test, ensuring the 2017 BMW 3 Series Sedan a TSP+ grade. "Model S still has the lowest ever probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA".

Conversely, the Volt can go longer in electric-only mode at 53 miles while the Prius tops out at 25 miles.

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Tesla later on issued a statement that said that their cars have lowest probability of injury in a crash and have gotten a 5 star rating in NHTSA tests. The result of this test, in which the vehicle collides with a rigid barrier at 40 miles per hour, led the group to downgrade Model S despite its body structure performing well enough for a good rating.