Published: Fri, February 03, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Merle Christensen

Safety Test Results on Electric Cars


For cars to received the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), they must receive "good" grades on all five of IIHS's crashworthiness tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which produces a list of top crash test performers each year, left the Model S out of its 2017 list of large luxury sedans in the "top safety pick" category, which includes dozens of models from the given year.

BMW AG's i3 electric vehicle also failed to earn the Top Safety Pick award due to inadequate headlights and seat restraints. The IIHS report states that the Model S' seatbelt allowed the dummy to move too far forward during the crash, and its head hit the steering wheel through the airbag.

It's worth noting that Tesla's Model S has received a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as the highest safety rating from the European New Car Assesment Program.

In the case of the Model S, one crash test in which the electric sedan didn't get the highest rating of "good" was the small overlap front crash.

The "acceptable" rating only covers the Tesla Model cars built after October 2016. While the Model S is a technology masterpiece, there is another piece of the puzzle that would make it that much more desirable: safety.

Tesla believes those improvements will change the conclusions of the IIHS.

The IIHS is an independent organization that runs its own crash tests, independent of the government.

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Its headlights were also rated "Poor", but Tesla claims it's working with suppliers to remedy that.

One version of the Model S, the P100D, also falls short on roof strength, which is important for protecting people in a rollover crash. For its headlights, the i3 earned the rating of "acceptable", which is the second highest level. While automatic braking equipment comes standard, Tesla hasn't yet activated the software for all vehicles.

The group recently gave the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Prime its top scores, Top Safety Pick Plus, to the two plug in hybrids.

The i3 came up short because it rates only acceptable in the head restraint and seat evaluation, which measures a vehicle's ability to protect against neck injuries in a rear crash.

However, the IIHS says that the i3 and Model S won't require extensive modifications like the up-for-a-redesign Leaf does. IIHS said it will test the updated vehicle for small overlap protection as soon as the revised vehicle can be delivered.

It's the little things that brought misfortune to the Model S and i3 in this round of IIHS tests.

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