Tesla Motor’s Model S has added to its impressive resume by receiving a five star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The all-electric sports sedan received the agency’s highest ranking in each of its three crash test categories, as well as for overall safety.
Last May, Consumer Reports awarded the Tesla Model S with an overall of 99 out of 100; a score which has been awarded to just one other vehicle – the Lexus LS.
In evaluating the safety of vehicles, federal regulators subject them to side and frontal crashes, as well as rollover situations, and measure how severely drivers and passengers would be injured in these situations. Safety ratings range from a high of five-star, to a low of one-star.
Center for Auto Safety director Clarence Ditlow said the Model S outranked all other U.S. vehicles tested by the NHTSA. Ditlow says, “Tesla has thrown down the challenge to the industry as a whole. ‘We are a new company and we beat everybody.’ All the other automakers need to accept Tesla’s challenge and do as well or better as Tesla in NHTSA’s crash test ratings.”
In a statement Tesla admitted that the Model S has a definite advantage over vehicles with traditional powertrains. The lack of a conventional, front-mounted, internal combustion engine gives the Model S a much longer crumple zone to absorb a 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.
By mounting the Model S’ heavy lithium-ion battery pack below the floor, Tesla has created a vehicle that is dramatically more stable and less prone to rollover.
In a statement, Tesla heralded its five-star safety ratings saying, “The Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants.”
Investors responded positively to the announcement of the Model S’ high safety rating, and by the end of the trading day Tesla’s stock had risen $4.68. The stock price has soared nearly 310 percent this year.
Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez says the top safety rating will increase Tesla’s appeal to consumers. He says, “This paves the way for Tesla to gain more acceptance among mainstream buyers in the years to come, provided that they are able to maintain the features, style and driving dynamics of the Model S in a more affordable package.” The Model S has a base sticker price of $63,570.