Tesla Seems to Set Low Goal For Model 3 Safety
Tesla's specifications page indicates the automaker is not aiming to make the Model 3 the safest vehicle in its segment. Rather than shoot for the same goal its peers do, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus rating, Tesla seems to be shooting for the easier to achieve NHTSA Five-Star rating.
Perhaps the all-electric automaker is afraid it cannot meet the tougher requirements of the IIHS testing. In its second round of testing, the Tesla Model S again failed to meet the same levels of safety that its peers have achieved in IIHS testing. Unlike the NHTSA test, IIHS adds a harder test called the small frontal overlap test. This test is conducted at higher speeds than the NHTSA tests and the unique way the car strikes the rigid barrier makes it harder for automakers to design a car that will earn a Good rating. No Tesla ever has earned this rating. Yet, most EVs, like the Chevy Bolt, Chevy Volt, Prius Prime and BMW i3 have. So too have large luxury five-passenger cars like the Lexus ES350 and Lincoln Continental. There is no magic needed to pass the test. Rather, automakers just need to spend the extra money on crash structure and design the car achieve that level of safety.
- Read details on the Small Frontal Overlap test
After the Model S was given an unusual second chance to pass the test, Tesla whined about the failure of its model to earn a score of Good to Business Insider. This is akin to a student complaining to a teacher that it wasn't fair that it didn't earn a good grade on a final after being given a second chance to take it.
In its marketing materials for the Model 3 Tesla says, "Model 3 is designed to attain the highest safety ratings in every category." We hope that is correct and that it will outscore the Model S on the Small Frontal Overlap test on which the Model S twice only managed an Acceptable rating, and the Headlight Test, on which the Model S scored the lowest rating possible, Poor.