Currently reading: Tesla Model S achieves best-ever crash test score
The Tesla Model S has set records for crash-test performance in North America
1 min read
21 August 2013

The Tesla Model S has achieved the highest safety rating ever recorded in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Model S a full five star rating in each subcategory.

Although the NHTSA doesn’t publish a star rating above five, Tesla claims the Model S achieved a theoretical (but unofficial) 5.4-star rating in the vehicle safety score.

The results found the Model S set a new record for occupant safety for cars sold in North America. The score accounts for injuries sustained resulting from front, side, rear and rollover collisions.

The side pole intrusion test saw the Tesla preserve 63.5 per cent of driver space, compared to another five-star car, the Volvo S60, which preserved 7.8 per cent of space. Tesla says safety in the optional third row of seats is improved with a double bumper arrangement.

Tesla attributes much of its protection to a large front crumple zone afforded by the lack of a large engine and aluminium extrusions in the side rails.

During rollover tests, the NHTSA employed special measures to induce a roll due to the Model S’s particularly low centre of gravity. Tesla mounts the battery below the floorpan. It says tests show that four fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in.


Find an Autocar review

Read our review

Car review
Tesla Model S 95D

In theory, this all-electric luxury car looks a hit. So is it in practice?

Join the debate


21 August 2013

I'm very impressed that the Tesla has scored so well.   It makes you wonder why such a small car manufacturer manages to do what many, even the ones who have been known for safety, can't.

21 August 2013

The Model S has an inherent advantage when it comes to engineering in very high front crash rating. Because there is no engine, the entire structure in front of the passenger cell can be utilized to engineer a crumple zone to absorb the collision energy. In a conventional car, length available for engineering the crush zone is reduced because the engine cannot deform. In the other crash tests (side, roof, rear) tesla has no advantage when compared to a conventional car and the scores are just down to excellent engineering. 

21 August 2013

It is easy to produce a car with the Tesla's safety as long as you make it hugely wide and long.

In any major collision with a huge truck you are still dead.

This car makes an S class or Range Rover look narrow.

21 August 2013

how does it make either of those cars seem narrow when both carry less passengers and both are wider than the Tesla?

21 August 2013

...what happens to the car the Tesla hits or hits the Tesla.

Surely, the fact that it has 60% or more space left available to the driver compared to nearly 8% for an S60, what its really saying is that the Tesla is safe for it's passengers and driver, but not the poor sod that is in the accident with the Tesla. You effectively 'bounce off' the Tesla, where the Tesla (lets say hitting an S60 Volvo) ploughs straight through on beyond (like smashing through a Caravan, probably!).

I'd like to see a pair of Teslas smash into each other. It'll either me fine and everyone is safe, or you'll find a 'cold fusion' like explosion which might destroy our Universe (don't panic, there are loads more out there, some even, where i even make sense!) and ineverything in it! Possibly......LOL

21 August 2013

Rever2013 wrote:

... but not the poor sod that is in the accident with the Tesla. You effectively 'bounce off' the Tesla, ...

BS. You've obiously never seen the crash pictures. 

21 August 2013

I'd rather crash in a Tesla S fitted with a petrol engine, with 200kgs+ less of energy needing to be dissipated into something, like a wall or a tree.

Atlhough it would be nice to not have a fire risk, but then high voltage can lead to fire too, and shocks.



21 August 2013

... after all this is the car that is troubling the likes of S-Class, the 7-Series and the A8.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review