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06 July 2017

Tesla Model S Fails Again To Earn IIHS Top Safety Pick + Rating

The Tesla Model S failed for the second time to achieve a Top Safety Pick+ rating from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety following its “small front overlap” test.

Previously, the IIHS tested a 2016 model year Model S and determined the safety belt allowed the crash dummy’s torso to move too far forward and strike the steering wheel.

For the latest test whose findings were just released, Tesla’s electric sedan is still missing a strong-enough safety belt to prevent the driver’s head from striking the steering wheel hard through the deployed air bag, according to the IIHS.

The Model S was able to receive an “acceptable” rating, the second-best designation, during the 40 mph simulated test similar to the sedan crashing into a telephone pole on the driver’s side.

A Tesla representative disputed the study’s finding, citing different test results by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a statement emailed last night to Business Insider:

“While IIHS and dozens of other private industry groups around the world have methods and motivations that suit their own subjective purposes,” said the Tesla representative, “the most objective and accurate independent testing of vehicle safety is currently done by the U.S. Government which found Model S and Model X to be the two cars with the lowest probability of injury of any cars that it has ever tested, making them the safest cars in history.”

Three sedans did achieve the Top Safety Pick + designation – Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Toyota Avalon. The Tesla Model S was in the same category as the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala for not hitting the top mark.

The IIHS is a nonprofit funded by auto insurance companies that conducts its own set of crash test for light-duty vehicles. While Tesla discredited the crash test findings for being insurance-industry biased, the IIHS crash test results are taken seriously by U.S. consumers. Automakers typically reference these crash test ratings in their promotional materials.

The small overlap front test was introduced by IIHS in 2012 to test out front-end safety if the car were to hit a telephone pole.

Here is the latest video for 2017:

And here’s one from January showing the 2016 Tesla Model S:

The Chevy Impala and Ford Taurus were slightly safer on this test than the Model S, but still only made the “acceptable” rating. The Impala’s structure made it through the test, but the crash test dummy’s head was partially unprotected. The Taurus controlled the dummy’s movement during the crash but left its lower left leg exposed to potential injuries, said David Zuby, a vice president at IIHS.

The Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Toyota Avalon do have the right airbag timing and seatbelt tension that gave them high safety ratings, Zuby said.

The Model S, Impala, and Taurus, need these improvements.

“They need a strong structure so the safety cage, the part in which the driver and the passengers ride, isn’t crushed,” Zuby said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has talked about the safety of the Model S and Model X many times.

IIHS puts vehicles through five safety tests – the small overlap front test, along with moderate overlap front and side crashes, roof strength, and effectiveness of the head restraints.

Vehicles need to receive a high rating for all five tests to receive the Top Safety Pick Plus designation. The vehicle also need to have an additional “good” or “acceptable” headlight rating.

USA Today

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