Tesla's Model S electric car earns highest safety rating of any vehicle

By on August 20, 2013, 4:45 PM
tesla, electric car, model s, elon musk, safety rating

Tesla’s flagship Model S electric sedan has earned a five-star safety rating in every category en route to setting a record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants when tested for front, side, rear and rollover accidents. It’s a distinction that’s awarded to only one percent of all vehicles tested by safety regulators according to the company.

A press release issued late yesterday evening penned by CEO Elon Musk pointed out the sedan bested the safety score of all sport-utility vehicles and minivans tested by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSB).

Musk noted that the NHTSB does not publish a start rating above five although scores higher than this are provided in the overall Vehicle Safety Score provided to manufacturers. It’s here that the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 starts, he said.

At least part of the reason the Model S scored so high is because it doesn’t have a front-mounted engine block. This, according to Tesla, gives it a larger crumple zone which lets the vehicle absorb front impacts better than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Elsewhere, the vehicle did exceptionally well in the rollover test. Because the vehicle’s batteries are kept under the floor, this gives the car a lower center of gravity. As such, Musk said the Model S refused to turn over via normal methods and special means were needed to induce a rollover.

The company expects to sell roughly 20,000 of its Model S electric cars by the end of the year.




User Comments: 25

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I have a buddy who has one of these. It's built like a tank. With all the batteries in the bottom, lowering the center of gravity, there's almost zero sway while driving or even during sharp turns. It also weights double what a normal car of its size does due to the battery pack, and so the suspension system and everything else needs to be built to handle that.

It's the most impressive car I've ever ridden in.

Lurker101 said:

Take the batteries out, put a V8 in and I'll be interested

davislane1 davislane1 said:

I'd be interested to see how the numbers stack up against mid- and rear-engine cars. That those vehicles usually aren't crash tested made this a huge marketing opportunity for Tesla that they apparently have knocked out of the park.

Guest said:

@Lurker101 - Consider that Tesla is already outselling their production and the demand keeps on growing, I doubt they care if you buy one or not. Adding a V8 will only make the car worse.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'd have to agree with you, @TomSEA. Was shopping at a mall this last weekend, which is usually about as much fun as a root canal without novacaine... But, they had a Tesla shop in the mall, with a few cars and one complete chassis-only setup so you could see how the frame is built. If I hadn't already been impressed by the overall build of the Tesla S and all of the slick design details they put into it, seeing that bare frame and how solid the vehicle is built underneath, I'm doubly impressed.

Guest said:

The Model S will rip up pretty much any V8, even with a supercharger.

1 person liked this | Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The Model S will rip up pretty much any V8, even with a supercharger.

But that V8 only takes 5 minutes to recharge its tank and makes a sweet sound, especially with a supercharger. Also you'll get more range out of it.

And no kidding this thing out paced minivans and SUVs in safety ratings, it can't roll over, just that one fact alone means you really can't compare the two. Besides who compares low slung sports cars to minivans? Not at all the same thing. Just look at the chassis, its like nothing else out there and looks heavy and solid.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

The Model S will rip up pretty much any V8, even with a supercharger.

Don't know much about cars, do you? There are six-bangers that will eat even a performance edition Tesla alive (4 cylinders if we include heavily moded engines). The Model S is certainly quick, but remains firmly in the middle of the pack when we talk about stock performance driving.

Edit: I'll add, though, that if we limit this to mid-sized sedans the Model S lineup remains middle of pack, sans the Performance model which edges near the top along with the M5 with respect to 0-60 times.

Nobina Nobina said:

This Model S looks really nice, too bad it is electrical. I'm not into that kind of stuff.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Yet another reason to buy this car... as if we needed another. However, there's one big barrier still out there for me and that's the $$.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

If they manage to increase the range and decrease the price I'd gladly own one.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

The Model S will rip up pretty much any V8, even with a supercharger.

But that V8 only takes 5 minutes to recharge its tank and makes a sweet sound, especially with a supercharger. Also you'll get more range out of it.

That's now. Battery tech is improving quite rapidly. The main restriction to charging quickly is the infrastructure to deliver many many Watts in a short period of time.

2 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I always roll my eyes when I read "highest safety rating". The rating changes every time a new car comes to market. These safety rating are nothing more than a sales gimmick. Doesn't change the idea that your chances of survival remain the same, regardless what you decide to climb into.

A tin box can only absorb so much shock, the rest is dependent on human tolerance and unique crash conditions. At this stage of the game, it is about like benchmarking quad core machines to play solitaire. They are all adequate, but yet we keep looking at benchmark performances.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

They obviously haven't compared it to the Abrams M1A2 tank yet. I'd feel safer in that at speed on the highway than in the car. (Depending on who's driving)

2 people like this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I always roll my eyes when I read "highest safety rating". The rating changes every time a new car comes to market. These safety rating are nothing more than a sales gimmick. Doesn't change the idea that your chances of survival remain the same, regardless what you decide to climb into.

A tin box can only absorb so much shock, the rest is dependent on human tolerance and unique crash conditions. At this stage of the game, it is about like benchmarking quad core machines to play solitaire. They are all adequate, but yet we keep looking at benchmark performances.

Benchmark figures sell products. People like comparing benchmark numbers even if they haven't a clue as to their meaning. BS baffles brains and the marketing boys know this all to well. That said so do we but we'll always fall for it.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The Model S will rip up pretty much any V8, even with a supercharger.

But that V8 only takes 5 minutes to recharge its tank and makes a sweet sound, especially with a supercharger. Also you'll get more range out of it.

That's now. Battery tech is improving quite rapidly. The main restriction to charging quickly is the infrastructure to deliver many many Watts in a short period of time.

It would be safe to assume that batteries will improve. And by 10 years when I'm needing to replace it I'll be able up upgrade to a rapid charging battery. But for now, I'm not driving 300 miles per day. So an overnight top-off on the battery is fine for my daily use. Plus I have a dinosaur sipping car for those long distance highway trips.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The Model S will rip up pretty much any V8, even with a supercharger.

New V8's suffer from modern smog restrictions. And the electric motor, with it's zero emissions can greatly improve from where it is at today.

However the V8 motors power drag racing cars, so lifting those State restrictions and you are controlling a very explosive power. It's all about traction control at that point, so I wouldn't toss aside the V8 out of the competition.

cmbjive said:

"A press release issued late yesterday evening penned by CEO Elon Musk pointed out the sedan bested the safety score of all sport-utility vehicles and minivans tested by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSB)."

Why compare a sedan to SUVs and minivans?

"It would be safe to assume that batteries will improve."

It would also be safe to assume that gas-consuming cars will become more energy efficient. However, batteries are still constrained by the fact that they must be charged first in ordered to be used and even at rest electronic devices that use batteries still consume energy.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

@cmbjive Batteries may be held back due to infrastructure and technological problems, but ICEs are starting to show their age. Most of the efficiency gains made in recent years have been the result of clever tricks (cylinder deactivation and stop/start), highly complicated gear boxes (seven and eight speed transmissions, CVTs, etc.), and small output. Safety regulations and more computer systems adding weight to cars will only exacerbate the problem. For internal combustion to remain strong against future EVs manufacturers are either going to have to find a more effective fuel or reinvent the wheel. Hybrid systems are gaining popularity, but I doubt consumers 15 years from now will be attracted to them over full EVs.

cmbjive said:

ICEs may be showing their age, but they won't be replaced by electric-driven cars. Fifteen years from now I am willing to bet the most popular selling vehicle will still be the Ford F-150. In fact, the top selling cars so far this year do not include any electric vehicle. Indeed, the F Series and Silverado take the one and two spots, respectively.

As far as I'm aware there are no all-electric trucks in production.

The fact that they are resorting to "tricks" to get more efficiency out of the ICE may be due to the fact that they have reached the marginal diminishing utility of the engine. So instead of trying to squeeze out more efficiency in the engine they should turn to other features of the car that can be reduced in weight without sacrificing too much on chassis integrity and safety.

I still don't see Tesla as a long-term production vehicle, but we'll see in 15 years.

Guest said:

What most of you seem to have forgotten is that most modern electric motors can exert a lot more torque than that of a V8, plus they can maintain that torque throughout the entire driving range (Why do you think most freight trains use an electric motor powered by a diesel generator).

I have also noticed another oversight, It is actually fairly easy to maintain a charge on the batteries through the use of solar cells, having the motor generate power when stopping, and another idea I have is placing a hood scoop or two that redirect airflow to a set of turbines in which spin generators to help power the motor and charge/maintain the batteries (this would be especially effective on highways). There are so many ways that EV's can be made more efficient and more powerful.

If they implemented solar cells onto the surface of the vehicle, you wouldn't even have to plug your car in when you park your car at work or at the store. Solar has become extremely efficient over the years, to the extent that most are highly efficient even without direct sunlight.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

@Guest

I don't think anyone has forgotten of the obvious performance advantages of electric. However, when we talk performance, raw power and torque are only one aspect of the deal. I'll take an M3/4, M5, any V12 Aston, an R spec Jag, a Porsche, a Maserati or anything with an AMG badge all day over even the most potent EV for one reason: EV power is emotionless, regardless of the figures.

Guest said:

With regard to solar cells in the roof of the car (and charging while parked), Volvo has come up with their own solution that would retroactively work for any electric car, though price would be a concern (as are most electric car-related gadgets currently on the market) if it's ever released:

[link]

1 person liked this | Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have also noticed another oversight, It is actually fairly easy to maintain a charge on the batteries through the use of solar cells, having the motor generate power when stopping, and another idea I have is placing a hood scoop or two that redirect airflow to a set of turbines in which spin generators to help power the motor and charge/maintain the batteries (this would be especially effective on highways). There are so many ways that EV's can be made more efficient and more powerful.

If they implemented solar cells onto the surface of the vehicle, you wouldn't even have to plug your car in when you park your car at work or at the store. Solar has become extremely efficient over the years, to the extent that most are highly efficient even without direct sunlight.

Your joking right? Have you forgotten one of the laws of physics? The idea of a turbine just means your adding drag to the vehicle and the electric motor would thus work harder nullifying any potential charge from said turbine. And solar cells are again a laughable, even if the whole surface of the car was laminated with solar cells the electrical output would not be sufficient to charge the vehicle fast enough, maybe it would add a little range but likely not much. If a standard 230v/10a wall outlet takes 34 hours to charge the batteries do you really think a solar panel outputting a tenth of that power would have any real effect after 8 hours at work. Also the cost of doing so would make the car incredibly expensive, if it wasn't too expensive as it is.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

It would be safe to assume that batteries will improve. And by 10 years when I'm needing to replace it I'll be able up upgrade to a rapid charging battery. But for now, I'm not driving 300 miles per day. So an overnight top-off on the battery is fine for my daily use. Plus I have a dinosaur sipping car for those long distance highway trips.

Yes 300 miles or even 300kms would do me fine atm.

The initial purchase price is the main barrier here. They are expecting a price in the range of $100k-200k AUD which at current exchange rate is $90k-180k USD.

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