For those that think electric vehicles have an inherent safety issue associated with their lithium batteries, Tesla has some news for you. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US has awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory.
Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board. 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. It also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans, not just sedans.
According to Tesla, the reasons for the stellar safety ratings of the Model S include having a much longer crumple zone to absorb high speed impacts. Of course this is possible by not having to worry about squeezing in a large gasoline engine block up front. For rear impacts, if a third row child safety seat is ordered on the Model S then Tesla factory installs a double bumper providing greater protection. In terms of rollovers, the Model S also excels and is largely due to the low centre of gravity afforded by the battery packs.
Of note the lithium-ion battery pack did not catch fire at any time before, during or after the NHTSA testing. This is noted in Tesla’s press release in reference to the widely reported GM Volt battery fire a couple of years ago. In reality that happened three weeks after a NTSHA test when the vehicle’s battery pack shorted and caught fire in a storage area (Source: Popular Mechanics).
Not being content with earning the top test score in 2013 from Consumer Reports Tesla has seemingly done it again with the safety rating of their Model S sedan.
Sources: Popular Mechanics, Tesla Motors.