THE TESLA Model 3 is one of the safest new cars on sale, according to American regulators, who gave the car a maximum five-star safety rating in crash tests.
In crash tests carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Tesla Model 3 was awarded the best possible safety score, thanks to strong performances in the front crash, side crash and rollover assessments. The results, Tesla claims, means the Model 3 has “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested”.
However, the NHTSA does stress it only uses the five-star scale to determine car safety. Officially, the Tesla Model 3 is no safer for occupants than other vehicles that have been awarded the US government body’s highest possible crash test scores.
In an statement, the agency said: “Results from [the] crash tests and the rollover resistance assessments are weighted and combined into an overall safety rating. A five-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve. The NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no “safest” vehicle among those vehicles achieving five-star ratings.”
The NHTSA results follow positive assessments from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent vehicle safety organisation in the United States, which concluded the Tesla Model S and Model 3 as “good” overall in crash tests. Neither car, though, has been rated a ‘Top Safety Pick’ by the group, and the IIHS deemed the Model S to be “acceptable” in 2017 before retesting the car earlier this year.
Tesla attributes the Model 3’s strong performance in the NHTSA tests to the “benefits [that result] from its all-electric architecture and powertrain design. According to the vehicle maker, the lower centre of gravity that results from placing the batteries in the floor of the car helps reduce the risk of rollover crashes, and fortifying the battery packs further improves chassis rigidity.
Though the Tesla Model 3 has achieved top marks across the board in its crash test, Tesla as a whole hasn’t had the most consistent fortune as of late. Share prices have dipped since September, when the US stock markets regulator filed a fraud lawsuit against former CEO Elon Musk, after he falsely claimed “funding [was] secured” to take the company private.
A separate libel lawsuit has also been filed by the British diver Vern Unsworth, who was accused of being a “pedo” by the Tesla founder. Unsworth has said Mr Musk’s plans to send a submersible to rescue 13 people trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand was nothing more than a “PR stunt”.