Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 earned a coveted Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, after the sedan performed better in a crash test than the Model S.
The Model 3 earned “good” crash ratings in each of IIHS’s tests, including one that measures how vehicles perform in front, driver’s-side-corner collisions. The Model S fell short in the small overlap test in 2017, with the group finding drivers could sustain a skull fracture.
Elon Musk has for years crowed about the safety of Teslas, sometimes to the chagrin of U.S. regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent the chief executive officer a cease-and-desist letter last year regarding claims the company made about the probability of motorists being injured in the Model 3. Tesla’s boasts were inconsistent with NHTSA’s advertising guidelines, and the agency told Musk it would ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the company’s statements were unfair or deceptive.
The scrutiny hasn’t deterred Musk. On Tesla’s support page outlining its referral program, which rewards customers for recommending its cars to others, the company says it “makes the safest cars in the world according to U.S. government testing.” NHTSA specifically tells automakers to avoid using the word “safest” to describe how the agency rates the safety of their vehicles.
Model 3’s Marks
The Model 3 is one of 48 vehicles currently sold in the U.S. that have earned IIHS’s top safety accolade. Its standard front-crash prevention sys tem earned a “superior” grade.
In the challenging small overlap test, the pillar along the front door hinge caved in toward the driver by 8 inches and the door buckled. Still, IIHS determined drivers face only a moderate risk of lower leg injury from a front-left corner crash.
The Model 3 is the third zero-emission vehicles to earn top-pick status this year, after the Audi e-tron electric SUV and the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell SUV.
“There’s no need to trade away safety for a lower carbon footprint when choosing a vehicle,” David Zuby, IIHS’s chief research officer, said in a statement.
–With assistance from Ryan Beene.
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