Tesla caught many legacy car manufacturers by surprise, "on the wrong foot", not only in terms of electrification, but also in terms of active and passive safety standards. The Austin company has shown throughout the world that its design methods and assembly lines are a reference when it comes to measuring against the harsh and complicated crash and safety tests of international organizations. After its excellent results in the Euro NCAP tests though, many among those legacy automakers claimed that Tesla could be presumably cheating. Now this research by the European authorities shows that this is absolutely not the case, as no evidence whatsoever was found.
The case was allegedly similar to the Volkswagen Dieselgate: if at that time the German manufacturer sent "modified" cars specifically designed to perform well on the tests and emit less pollution - something that was actually proved -, in the case of Tesla it had to do with the software coding of its autonomous driving system, or advanced safety program. Some critics claimed that the company was sending Euro NCAP cars specifically prepared to pass the demanding safety tests, and hence the great results obtained in the ADAS and safety assistant equipment section.
A few months ago the Tesla Model Y underwent, like any other car for sale in Europe, the Euro NCAP safety tests. There are four main points that are measured: safety for adult passengers, safety for child passengers, vulnerability of pedestrians and security assistants. Although the Model Y stood out in all sections, it did so especially well in two: safety for adult passengers, where it obtained a score of 97 points out of 100, and in ADAS systems, where the score obtained was 98 points out of 100.
To date, it is the car that has obtained the best score in the new section. An example is the Mercedes EQS, which "only" has managed to score 80 points out of 100 in driving assistants. As soon as the results were published, Euro NCAP began to receive warnings of the possible cheating practices by Tesla. Allegedly there were software cheating tricks embedded in the complex coding of the car. Faced with the impossibility of evading such criticism, the European agency undertook an in-depth investigation that now is made official, revealing that absolutely no problem has been detected in this regard, and that the Model Y continues to keep the scores it achieved.
The official statement is as follows: “The integrity of the star rating scheme is of paramount importance to Euro NCAP and we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the rating reflects the safety that consumers can expect from their vehicles. So far, Euro NCAP investigations have not revealed any evidence of an attempt to "cheat" the tests by Tesla". But, is the issue actually settled? Apparently not.
Dear @RealDanODowd: NCAP scores clearly indicate #Tesla Model Y leading with an awesome 98% score. Your company Green Hills supplies the software for BMW iX Series but this safety system just barely managed to limp into the field with a 81% score. Something should Dawn on you.pic.twitter.com/sS8RuPYkD3— Lawrence 4.68e+3 (@Avatrode) September 10, 2022
Euro NCAP has indeed discovered a section within the software code that clearly specifies and mentions the safety tests, but Tesla has stated that said section of the code focuses exclusively on identifying the region in which it circulates, since neither all geographic parts of the world are actually tested nor the tests are exactly the same. But in Japan the rumors have not been silenced, and Tesla still remains in the eye of the hurricane. In that case, the researchers have not actually found any trace in the code, not even identifying the geographic region; but it has once again triggered the rumors, however misleading or confusing the alleged proof might be.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.