The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS) has begun performing its comprehensive testing of the new Tesla Model 3, which starts at $46,000. Unfortunately for the Model 3 and its future owners, the car will not earn the Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) designation that inexpensive vehicles the same size as the Model 3 like the Hyundai Elantra and Subaru Impreza have already earned.
IIHS’s testing goes farther than government testing performed by NHTSA and other agencies. One of the tests that the group performs is a headlight test. IIHS built a state of the art headlight testing center a few years back. It even went to so far as to enlist members of the general public in calibrating its instruments so that the results would be true to the real world. The bar for earning the TSP+ rating is a “Good” rating. Unfortunately, the Model 3 has been evaluated and has only earned a rating of “Acceptable.” The Model 3 scored two levels higher than the Model S. That more expensive Tesla model only earns a "Poor" headlight rating.
The other test that the Tesla Model 3 has already completed is the Forward Crash Prevention evaluation. The Model 3 earned a “Superior Rating” and that rating applies to all Model 3 cars, not just the ones with optional equipment. Active safety technology has moved very rapidly through the auto industry and most popular affordable models now have the technology standard. For example, every mainstream Toyota car has this technology. IIHS has been ahead of other testing agencies in the evaluation of active safety ratings, starting its evaluations back in 2013.
If the Model 3 aces every crash test from here forward its rating could equal that of the Toyota Prius Prime, which sells for about half the price of the Tesla Model 3. We hope that the Model 3 will score "Good" on all the upcoming tests, but it is far from a certainty. The much higher-priced Tesla Model S was tested twice by IIHS and both times failed to score “Good” on the Small Frontal Overlap test.
Related Story: Tesla Model S At Bottom of IIHS Test Results – Again
Tesla vehicles in the real world have received much attention for their dramatic Autopilot crashes that sometimes kill the occupants. However, a more humdrum fact about Tesla’s Model S is that over time, the Model S has proven to have a higher real-world crash rate than large cars its size (and EVs) and it costs more to repair than its peers.
IIHS ordered the Model 3 it has recently tested back in June of 2017. Like many Model 3 shoppers, IIHS has had to wait due to the Model 3's significant production delays. The Institute has four more on order and once those arrive, the crash testing will begin. Similar to Consumer Reports, IIHS does not test fleet vehicles supplied by the manufacturer, but rather, buys them and tests them exactly the way they are delivered.