The Tesla Model S was given a 5-star rating across the board by the national agency in charge of ratings, and set a new combined record of 5.4 stars.
“Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants,” according to Tesla Motors. “While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans. This score takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded Tesla the high rating because it got 5 stars in every subcategory without exception.
The Model S is so safe because it doesn’t a large gasoline engine block, so it has a much longer crumple zone to absorb high speed impact.
“This is fundamentally a force over distance problem – the longer the crumple zone, the more time there is to slow down occupants at g loads that do not cause injuries,” says Tesla. “Just like jumping into a pool of water from a tall height, it is better to have the pool be deep and not contain rocks.”
Added safety barriers such as a double bumper if the optional third row children’s seat is chosen are key to the high safety. The Model S also broke the machine that tests roof crush protection.
“The above results do not tell the full story,” according to Tesla. “It is possible to game the regulatory testing score to some degree by strengthening a car at the exact locations used by the regulatory testing machines. After verifying through internal testing that the Model S would achieve a NHTSA 5-star rating, Tesla then analyzed the Model S to determine the weakest points in the car and retested at those locations until the car achieved 5 stars no matter how the test equipment was configured.”