By on August 21, 2013
model-s-five-star-safety-rating

Chart courtesy of Tesla Motors

While General Motors is thumping its chest because the new fullsize pickups from Chevrolet and GMC are the first to earn an overall 5 star crash test rating since the standards were upgraded two years ago, Tesla is trumpeting the NHTSA crash testing results for their Model S, saying that the luxury EV achieved the best safety rating ever of any car tested by the highway safety agency. Not only did the Model S earn an overall five-star rating, but the Model S earned 5 stars in every testing category. While 5 is the maximum rating that NHTSA publishes, manufacturers are provided with the overall Vehicle Safety Score, whose scale goes higher, and Teslas says that the Model S’ VSS was 5.4 stars, the highest ever achieved.

The EV company says that score is the best of any recorded by every car sold in the United States, a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. It also is better than all SUV and minivans as well. The company attributes the high scores in part to a more effective front crush zone made possible by the fact that there is no engine up front in the Tesla, which is driven by a fairly compact electric motor mounted near the rear axle. Another feature that the company claims makes the Tesla safer is a double bumper installed on cars ordered with an optional third row seat for children. Side impact performance, significantly better than the five star rated Volvo S60, is attributed to multiple aluminum extrusions nested in the Model S’ side rails.

The Model S performed particularly well in the rollover test because the location of the vehicle’s traction battery under the passenger compartment results in a very low center of gravity. During normal testing the Model S could not be made to roll over so the test had to be modified. The results indicate that the Model S will protect its passengers from rollover risk about 50% better than other top rated vehicles.

Should the Model S be made to roll over, the roof should protect the occupants well. During roof crush testing, the Model S broke the testing machine after withstanding more than 4 times the force of gravity. Tesla attributes that high performance to B pillar reinforcements attached with aerospace graded fasteners.

In announcing the results, Tesla said that while their initial testing showed that the Model S would achieve the 5 star rating when tested in standard locations, they verified that even if the car was tested at its weakest points, it would still earn the maximum rating. No doubt because fire safety has been an issue that was raised with the Chevy Volt and the Fisker Karma, Tesla’s press release on the Model S crash results also stressed that the car’s lithium-ion battery experienced no fires before, during or after NHTSA testing. The “after” was a reference to a fire that broke out in a Chevy Volt three weeks after it was crash tested by NHTSA in a fully charged condition.

Tesla also said that they are unaware of any fatalities that have happened in real world collisions involving either the Model S or the Tesla Roadster.

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109 Comments on “Tesla S Sets NHTSA Crash Testing Score Record, Goes to Eleven (Well, 5.4 Stars to be Exact), Breaks Roof Testing Machine...”


  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I patiently await a machine getting an “11”.

    After all, it’s one better than “10” which we all know is twice as good as a “5”.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …well, a five-point-four on a five-star scale is equivalent to a ten-point-eight score on a ten-star scale, close-enough to eleven as makes little difference…

  • avatar
    morbo

    That’s… actually pretty awesome. Breaking the testing machine is always a great time for the T&E guys. Time to buy a better machine!

  • avatar

    For all those soccer moms that tell me I’m unsafe riding in a compact car, I’ll now be able to tell them they should get a Tesla instead of $LARGE_SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Toshi

      Crash test results only matter if crashing into a fixed object or another vehicle withh 250 lbs, iirc. Head on collisions with more massive vehicles of lesser star ratings will result in the larger vehicles’ occupants walking away.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        Except a Tesla S weighs 4,647.3 lbs. Being hit by a Tesla S at 60mph is the same as getting hit by an Escalade at 54mph, not such a big difference. This isn’t quite the same as the lotus the roadster was based on.

  • avatar
    blackbolt

    Liking this Model S much. Seems this company is gonna change the automotive landscape with positives. Can’t wait for the Tesla Model that I can afford.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    That Elon Musk – what a huckster, building vaporware!

    Seriously, maybe their upcoming Model E (recent trademark submission by Tesla) is my next car after the Leaf.

  • avatar
    jberger

    It’s not enough for the newer models to be affordable, they need to have enough supercharger stations around to let you drive out of state.

    I was taking a look at the supercharger locations yesterday and they are few and far between down in the Southeast. Even if you can afford the car, you aren’t going to get very far without a place to recharge.

    California looks to have enough station density to let you actually leave town and return, but the rest of the US, not so much.

    I’ve really enjoyed watching Tesla evolve, so none of this is a knock on the company. But if you think a 40K Tesla will be for you, then you’ve got to have a place to fill it up away from home.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      What about the inconvenience of not being able to fill up your regular car at home? Getting gas all the time is a pain!

      Beyond 400 miles a lot of people choose to fly, and most major city pairs at that distance will have a supercharger between them within the next year, so what you’re asking for is already coming. Check out http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

      Also the second car argument.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        As well as the option to rent a car for longer trips.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Ah, the Tesla Supercharger.

        I like a lot of what Tesla is doing and if I was in the price bracket for their cars I’d probably own one.

        But it really takes a guy who made his fortune in the computer business to look at the two competing fast-charging standards and decide that the correct answer was a whole new proprietary setup that’s not compatible with any other brand of car, nor will Teslas charge at any of the “legacy” fast-charge stations equipped for CHAdeMO or SAE plugs.

        • 0 avatar
          galaxygreymx5

          Tesla’s inlet is compatible with J1772 and looks like it’ll be compatible with the SAE combo plug via a simple adapter (just like how a Model S uses J1772). All the pins and signaling are the same.

          CHAdeMO is basically Nissan vs. the world at this point. Mitsubishi shipped some cars with it but it’s basically Nissan. The Model S is effectively compatible with SAE and J1772. Supercharging is the most elegant setup of any of them and it’s pretty obvious why Tesla went their own way compared to the messes that the CHAdeMO group and the SAE barfed up.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      It’s funny – Tesla is setting these stations up and offering free use but the human condition immediately tales that as a given and asks for more. where’s Louis C K when you need him?

      Also if you take the California coast and the eastern seaboard you have accounted for maybe 70% of the US population.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        According to 2010 census: US population: 308.7 million
        West coast: 47.7
        East coast: 99
        That’s 47.5%; there’s a lot more people in ‘flyover country’ than you give them credit for.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    To be sure, not having to observe the packaging constraints associated with a fuel-burning engine gives Tesla certain advantages, but I can’t see why being an EV makes it any easier for Tesla to build a crush-resistant roof or be highly resistant to side impacts.

    Excellent work!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    One might hope the Model S has a strong roof structure considering what it weighs and that much of it is in position to try and crush the passenger compartment when the car is inverted.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      You mean for when the car doesn’t flip because the battery’s weight and CoG keep it firmly planted to the ground right-side up?

      I’m thinking if you don’t let Toonces drive, you probably won’t have to worry much about rollover.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @CDinSD

      Good point, but it looks like they did precisely that.

  • avatar
    ash78

    For most enthusiasts, I belive this level of safety is many times greater than the minimum acceptable. Good for them.

    However, a very specialized, expensive vehicle with ultra-modern construction and a unique drivetrain SHOULD break the system. Just as it throws a wrench into mpg equivalency calculations and generally confuses everyone about range, utility, green cred, and everything else.

    In short, it’s almost like saying the iPad has a bigger screen than a Nexus, or that the V22 Osprey does a better job hovering than a C-130 Hercules. The traditional metrics will continue to be broken due to a widening gap between all cars — but in this case it’s not as if Tesla specifically strove to break all the safety records as a primary goal. But they did it, nonetheless!

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      “but in this case it’s not as if Tesla specifically strove to break all the safety records as a primary goal. But they did it, nonetheless!”

      It seems that every goal they have is a primary goal, since the Model S has proven pretty exceptional if not the best ever depending on the criteria you use. It’s safer than a Volvo at any price, quicker, roomier and prettier than many luxury sedans at the same price. Aside from the battery range issue (Mrs. Lincoln), in what general way is Tesla not kicking the ass of legacy automakers foreign and domestic? Their first fully-in-house designed car is better than many large automakers’ best.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        Model S’s top speed is comparable to that of a Honda Accord.

        Having said that, I would certainly drive a Model S if you gave me one, however at this price, there are LOTS of nice options in the automotive world.

      • 0 avatar
        hf_auto

        If you ask NADA, Tesla has done a pretty poor job of setting up a traditional dealer network. Good for Tesla… and customers.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          “If you ask NADA, Tesla has done a pretty poor job of setting up a traditional dealer network. Good for Tesla… and customers.”

          Oh noooooosssss! Customers will miss out on the “four square” finance worksheet treatment, the salesman’s cartoonishly proportioned giant desk calculator, the “let me talk to the finance manager” song and dance, the “I can’t let the car go for that price” treatment, the upsell for window tint/wax job/floor mats/scotch guard seats…

          Before any car salesman jumps into the fray to play devil’s advocate or champion the poor car salesman’s lot in life, I notice that other expensive purchases of mass-produced goods don’t have these kind of shenanigans. I didn’t have to deal with it when I bought a new house (while it was still under construction). I don’t remember any of that noise when my buddy bought his new boat from the boat showroom, of a big chain store, either.

          But yep, regular car dealers will go on being themselves.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Customers will miss out on the “four square” finance worksheet treatment, the salesman’s cartoonishly proportioned giant desk calculator, the “let me talk to the finance manager” song and dance, the “I can’t let the car go for that price” treatment, the upsell for window tint/wax job/floor mats/scotch guard seats…”

            What makes you think any of that would be missing from a Tesla dealership experience?

          • 0 avatar

            danio: It is missing from the Tesla dealer experience because it has deliberately been left out. That’s not how Tesla sells cars. The price is the price. It’s on the window and it’s on the website — and in fact, you can skip the whole dealer thing entirely and just order your car online. The whole process is a lot more like buying a Mac than it is like buying a Toyota — by design. I have my qualms about Tesla’s long-term ability to justify anything like its current stock price, but the retail experience is a model for how it should be done.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I’ve never been in a Tesla dealer, so I really don’t know what it’s like, but I would be very surprised if “the price” is actually less than or equal to “the price” out the door after the offerings of added extras like the leather case and service contract.

            Personally, I don’t want the Apple retail experience when buying a car. That way everyone pays the same bloated price and supply is easily controlled to fetch it.

            I would much prefer two independent businesses across town compete with each other and possibly even sell me a car at break even prices just to get my business.

            Are people really that incapable or intolerant of deal-making that they are willing to cheer-on centralized control of sales, ensuring that no one gets a really good deal?

            As far as Tesla’s dealer model goes, I really don’t care, they can sell their cars any way they want as far as I’m concerned. But advocating this dealer model be the norm, or worse, legislate it makes little sense for the consumer.

          • 0 avatar
            Nicholas Weaver

            Danio: Tesla doesn’t have dealers, period.

            You place your order (and can go to a showroom if you want to test drive), and your car shows up for the website-listed agreed-on price with the exact selection you made in a month or three when its done.

            If anything, the “buying experience” is most like a Rolls Royce but with a website to configure the car rather than a book of things.

            F-the dealers. 80%+ of the bad in buying a car is the fault of the dealers, not manufacturers.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            When we were shopping for a new house, we did experience the same shenanigans. Builders have model homes loaded to the gills with overpriced upgrades and it isn’t even remotely difficult to add 10-20% to the base price for “luxuries” that cost the builder pennies on the dollar to install. Just like a car, you can live without many of these options, or add them later, but it will cost more money and be more difficult than just getting them done the first time. My latest pet peeve is cable jacks… maybe $20/jack that they charge $150 for but are much more difficult to add later. But higher ceilings are nearly impossible to add, so if you want them prepare to shell out $10-15k up front. Tile floors seem like a no-brainer to add on your own, until you realize that flooring choice changes the baseboard installation and has the doors cut differently, so not getting it installed that way costs a lot more later. Granite counters can cost you $1k or $10k, just depends on how important that one exact shade or grain is to you… stainless steel appliances that some buyers just HAVE to have… I could go on and on.

            And pricing on major purchases like houses, boats, even high end electronics and appliances is most definitely negotiable, even computers. The reason Apple products are not is because of Apple’s tight control over the pricing at it’s retailers. And even then, the pricing was set with careful consideration of the competition and what the market will bear. As much as I hate the dealer experience with cars, having no dealers and letting the manufacturers control the pricing is going to be difficult on consumers until there is enough competition using that model to keep everything in check.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        “in what general way is Tesla not kicking the ass of legacy automakers foreign and domestic?”

        Primarily the lack of vehicles in the range of categories that customers want/need, i.e. compact and mid-size sedans and minivan/CUV people movers. Yes, I know that they’re coming, but it’s taken them a long time just to expand from the roadster to the Model S. Bertel made some trenchant points regarding the difficulty of scaling up in the auto business. While the Model S may be superior to cars in that price range, the ability to fully serve the market both in categories and volume is no mean feat. If I have the cash/credit I can have have an Audi or BMW comparable to a Model S tomorrow, or Cruze or Escape anytime. Tesla needs to be able to meet those levels in order to match the legacy companies.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Come back to me with a battery replacement cost, and we’ll calculate the economics over the life of the original battery.

      • 0 avatar

        “in what general way is Tesla not kicking the ass of legacy automakers foreign and domestic?”

        They’re making quite a statement. But they have to prove that they can scale this way of doing business up before somebody whose scale dwarfs Tesla’s takes the clue and eats their lunch. Scale matters so much in this business, and let’s not forget that Tesla’s sales volumes are still tiny. They’re aiming to sell 21,000 vehicles this year — or about the number of F-150s Ford sells every two weeks. If somebody like VW — or even GM — got serious about out-Tesla-ing Tesla, things could get tough for them pretty quickly.

        Now, Musk might still consider that to be “mission accomplished”, because he would have disrupted the auto business in what he sees as the right ways. And Tesla might continue to do okay as a small niche player. But this whole thing, financially speaking, is a bet that they can scale up to 500k vehicles a year before the competition gets serious enough to push them back. Can they do it? We shall see.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “in what general way is Tesla not kicking the ass of legacy automakers foreign and domestic? ”

        In the business sense mostly.

  • avatar
    cirats

    Am I the only one that thinks the coolest part of this story is the revelation that the Model S has a rear-facing third-row seat or did everybody know that already??? Way cool – just like my first car, an early ’80s Town & Country station wagon!

    • 0 avatar

      I knew it had a 3rd row option :)

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Everyone knew that, though many may not know that ticking the 3rd-row option also means adding additional rear structural and collision supports for more protection of 3rd row occupants. Currently the Model S’ 3rd row occupants are probably safer than occupants in any row of any other car, and given that Musk puts his kids in those seats it’s not a surprise.

    • 0 avatar
      rolosrevenge

      That’s been pretty much known from the beginning.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      Yep, a big roomy luxury car that’s safe, high-tech, made in America, and arguably the best car in the world right now.

      But we enthusiasts effin’ hate it because it can’t drive New York to L.A. and back three times a week, and also it’s the government and greenies telling us what to like.

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        Yep, you got it.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        No, we enthusiasts effin hate it because:
        We don’t like the idea of having to plan our daily travel and spur of the moment errands around our daily mobility ration;
        We can’t afford an expensive green luxury car AND an equally nice practical, anytime/any mission gas burner;
        We can’t see the sense of laying out serious money for a luxury car and then renting some Enterprise-grade stripper when we want to take a vacation.

        • 0 avatar
          galaxygreymx5

          Yeah man! I wouldn’t want a Lotus because I can’t go to Home Depot in it! Sure wouldn’t want one of those McLaren Mercedes coupes because I can’t put a carseat in the back! And screw a Range Rover because there’s no way it’s track ready!

          I’m relatively certain that if you can afford to plunk down $90k on your next car (Model S, A7, M5, whatever) that you probably have a small fleet of vehicles at your disposal.

          And I’m equally certain that if you have a couple hundred grand worth of automobiles you probably wouldn’t be caught dead cruising across Wisconsin in any of them; your ass is in first class being coddled with a car waiting at the airport.

          Vanishingly few people drive more than 300 miles in a day.

          • 0 avatar
            jpolicke

            You’re making the assumption that someone has “a couple hundred grand worth of automobiles”. I’m saying that while quite a few people may be able to afford one $90k car, not as many are able to afford two.

          • 0 avatar

            Judging by the Tesla Motors forums, there is a surprisingly large demographic of upper middle or lower upper class people who can afford a Tesla and buy it as their sole vehicle.

            Again, judging by forum posts, there are a lot of people who are driving their Teslas long distance. In fact, I would not be surprised if there is more interest among Tesla owners in long distance driving than non-Tesla owners! After all, they all love driving Model S, and that makes them more enthusiastic about longer trips via car. Thanks to the SuperChargers and their free fill ups, it’s much cheaper to drive a Model S long distance than any other car.

            The other curiously common thing is Tesla owners buying a second Model S for their wives. Apparently a single Model S is a gateway drug that frequently attracts more of its kind to the household.

            They have one thing in common: They all love Model S. No dissenting voices there. They do gripe when Tesla service lets them down, and it doesn’t seem like there is much censorship on the forums. So I am inclined to believe Tesla overall customer satisfaction is extremely high.

            If it weren’t for tiresome financial constraints, my next car would certainly be a Model S.

            D

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ David, the Super Chargers aren’t really free as you have to pay an extra $2000 to unlock that option, or $2500 if you want to enable that option after it has left the factory. So you are really going to have to use the Super Charger network a lot if you are going to come out ahead. Based on my local rates and assuming that you roll up to the Super Charger with only a few electrons left in your battery you’ll need to use it about 250 times.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @jpolicke – If you can’t afford 2 $90k cars, then you can’t afford one either.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Funny how people will say hybrids make no financial sense for most, yet somehow it makes economic sense to drive a notably larger vehicle to commute in because the size is needed for a once a year trip….

          While a Tesla is hardly the car for everyone, as an enthusiast I love it.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I’m not sure how this would cause of having to plan our daily travel and spur of the moment errands around our daily mobility ration. When was the last time you had to run an errand that was a 200 mile round trip after having done your 100 mile round trip commute. Even the 60kwh model is good for around 200 miles which is much much further than the average person drives on a regular basis.

          One would certainly work well for our family and the 80kwh model would work for our family as our primary car w/o charging away for all but about 3 or 4 trips per year, despite the fact that we typically put 30K per year on our primary car.

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      The FIRST thing I did when I played with a Model S was jump in the rear seats. I fully intended to be chaufered, sitting in the back. Unfortunately, they’re not optimal for a 6′ adult. Dreams of re-living my youth were crushed.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It is a $2500 option, though apparently that extra crash protection accounts for part of the cost. However that 3rd row is basically a pair of built in child seats for those weighing between 37 and 77 lbs and includes a full 5 point harness like a child safety seat.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      News to me, as well. I’ve seen a couple in person, but always just assumed they were 4-seaters.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Here are some photos of a real world accident with a Tesla. It looks like it sheared the power pole off near it’s base.

    http://goo.gl/Qdjfwc

  • avatar
    See 7 up

    “The results indicate that the Model S will protect its passengers from rollover risk about 50% better than other top rated vehicles.”

    How does one protect themselves from rollover risk? Is rollover risk deadly?

    I think this sentence needs to read “…the Model S will minimize risk of rollover about 50% better…”

  • avatar
    blackbolt

    My only gripe concerning Tesla is I did not buy stock when it was affordable, reluctant owing to Fisker’s troubles. This car has only two negatives, availabe charging and vampire drain when stored. Considering its execution and performance that’s a pretty short list.

    • 0 avatar
      galaxygreymx5

      The vampire thing has largely been solved, it seems, with the rollout of version 5.0 of the Model S’s vehicle software (over the air, natch).

      Based on extensive threads on the Tesla Motors Club forums some users are now reporting near zero vampire draw with 5.0.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    In retrospect, the benefits of not having an engine should have been immediately obvious for crash testing, but good on Tesla for playing their cards rights and waiting for the NHTSA results to come through first. Well played market message timing. Now let’s see how it does on the IIHS small-offset can-opener test.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    What the hell have Detroit, Tokyo, and Stuttgart been doing for the last 20 years if some upstart in Silicon Valley scraping by for years on Elon Musk’s savings account can build a better car than all of them?

    Seriously. The NHTSA thing was a real eye-opener and I was a Tesla fan from the start. I mean they beat *Volvo* for crying out loud.

    I feel kind of cheated by all the marketing hyperbole dished out by conventional automakers all these years. Can’t make money on an electric car, bull. Can’t build a safe car without massive engineering budgets, bull. Can’t build decent infotainment, bull.

    Tesla just threw everyone’s crap back in their faces.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of Tesla’s engineering and design team has worked for the Detroit automakers. Musk likes to dis Detroit, it works well with his target audience, as your comment indicates, but he’s not a fool and knows where you hire automotive engineering talent.

      • 0 avatar
        galaxygreymx5

        I’m not saying the big guys don’t have talent; obviously they do and Musk poached it. Why weren’t they USING it?

        I use my Chevy MyLink from one of the world’s largest and richest automakers and it blows, but when I test drove a Tesla their infotainment is sort of…perfect. Have you tried MyFordTouch? I mean c’mon, Microsoft and Ford team up and can’t make a better interface (after three years!) than little Tesla. Incredible.

        • 0 avatar
          E46M3_333

          Microsoft and Ford. Now there are two awesome brands for you. I can’t imagine how they screwed something up…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Oh I’m with you on Microsoft, Ballmer should be burned at the stake for effectively destroying those previously [somewhat working] products. However I’m not as agreeable to Ford, they were about a hair from bankruptcy and came back strong. Sure I disagree with much of what they are doing product wise, but the plebs like it and its shown in sales.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “Why weren’t they USING it?”

          So far, it has proven to be a losing business.

          EVs have been around for over a century. Building them isn’t a problem — all of the major automakers can do it.

          Building an EV that can sell at a price that is high enough and in adequate numbers to deliver a profit is a different matter. That’s a problem that nobody has solved.

          The major automakers accepted that the battery costs were high, and the energy density low. Their approach — build a relatively light car (to reduce the requirements placed on the battery) and to limit the range, in order to manage the cost and weight.

          The Tesla business model won’t work over the medium term unless EVs become popular and/or battery prices drop. But if the EVs become popular and can be made profitably, there will be new competition from established automakers that have the scale to meet demand.

    • 0 avatar
      E46M3_333

      They have to make much much more cumulative profit to re-coup the investment in the Model S. If they can’t produce a mainstream car with good margin in decent numbers, like a BMW 3 series or something comparable, they will not survive in the long run. Their stock price presumes they will be able to accomplish this; I’m not so sure. If I were a betting man, I’d let the stock run up for another year or so, then short the hell out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Remember a good chunk of Tesla’s current income is from selling the ZEV credits the car generates and charging some outrageous premiums for options that really should be standard in a luxury car. For example the cargo cover is $250 (included on many sub $20K hatchbacks), Ambient LED lighting is $1000 (included on many Fords with the ability to change the color), $500 each for fog lamps or back up sensors and you must order the $3500 tech package to be able to order those options. How about $1500 for an Alcantra headliner, or $2500 to put leather on the arm rests, console lid, top of dash and steering wheel air bag cover.

      So while they may start at only $64K you can hit exceed $120K getting options that are you can get out the door for under $40K on some other cars.

      • 0 avatar
        galaxygreymx5

        Ever priced out matching seat belts in a Boxster? How about smoked lamp lenses in a 911? What are you willing to pay for folding rear seats in a 3-series that come standard on a Kia?

        Premium automakers rape you on options and Tesla is no exception.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I’m not saying that you shouldn’t expect to pay more for options on a high end car, I’m just saying a good chunk of their profit comes from those high priced options that mainstream manufactures couldn’t get away with charging for at anywhere near that price. Some of them like the cargo cover is something that should be expected to be standard on a $64K hatchback when you get one standard on a sub $20K car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Remember a good chunk of Tesla’s current income is from selling the ZEV credits the car generates”

        Really now? Not to diss the product itself or the people behind it, but that’s a total fraud.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          In this article http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/analysis-tesla-q1-2013-results/ it was stated that in Q1 2013 68 million or 12% of their revenue came from the sale of those credits and w/o that income they wouldn’t have posted a 11 million profit that quarter. However that quarter did include paying off the DOE loans so with no longer facing that debt their results did improve for Q3.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Funny, DOE makes the loans and I imagine EPA comes up with the ZEV credit scam, and its that scam which helped pay off the DOE loans which later led to more legitimate profitability. The circle of fraud is complete.

            thx for the link

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Actually the ZEV thing is something dreamed up and enacted by CARB.

      • 0 avatar
        rentonben

        That’s a perfect summery of why I did not buy one:

        Well Optioned Tesla Price = Well Optioned Buick Regal GS Price + Free Gas for 20 years.

        (Wound up with a cheap-ass 2011 Buick Regal stripper for $26,000 after consulting my inner luddite who happened to want a German made car for some stupid reason)

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “Buick Regal stripper for $26,000″

          That makes as much sense as saying you saved 60k by not buying an S550…or blew 16 by not buying Versa.

          • 0 avatar
            galaxygreymx5

            Nailed it.

          • 0 avatar
            rentonben

            The Tesla does have that ‘crazy expensive’ presence even on their low-end model. It’s just that once you spec it out to something normal, the price goes through the roof. Their option category reminds me of the worst of BMW bundling with Porsche prices.

            Tesla had that rather vapid ‘savings calculator’ that tried to tell you they were giving the cars were a great value – so they should at least expect come cross shopping based on price.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          Does it, uh, come with a brass pole or is that a dealer-installed option?

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          German made?

          You mean the Regal that’s made in Canada, at Oshawa Assembly?

  • avatar
    jmo

    So, with a electric vehicle having far fewer and more reliable parts than an ICE (single speed fixed transmission for example) one would expect it be much more durable and reliable than an ICE. And, now we see than the design and engineering flexibility of an electric drivetrain makes for a much safer car as well.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I think it will simply fail in new and innovative ways as it ages. I have a one-year-old MacBook Air that just puked up its motherboard for no apparent reason. Thankfully under warranty. How many problems in modern luxury cars are mechanical, vs. how many are electrical? And good luck finding a Tesla loving Indy mechanic…

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        I think it will simply fail in new and innovative ways as it ages.

        Look at the commercial aircraft industry’s move from position engines to turbo props and jets.

        Certainly jet engines failed in new and innovative ways vs. the old piston engined radials of yore. But, the fact is jet engines are just a vastly more reliable technology than piston engines.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I sit here typing this message on a three-year-old Compaq laptop that uses lithium batteries of a chemistry not unlike the Tesla uses, and which has seen a daily charge/discharge cycle throughout the laptop’s life … just like an EV battery will see, except without the additional stress of regenerative braking. When the laptop was new, I could go 3 hours on a charge. Now, it’s lucky to go 20 minutes.

      This is after three years. If I understand correctly, the Tesla cars come with a 5 year warranty on the batteries.

      An EV might not be as mechanically complex as an ICE vehicle, but those infernal batteries … ! ! ! I look forward to seeing how their warranty costs play out in the long term.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Right, just like that Prius battery fiasco that drove Toyota into bankruptcy.

        Oh, wait… That never happened.

        Battery life is a function of the level of charge and discharge permitted. The Tesla engineers have made different choices than the Compaq engineers.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          @jmo, Toyota got it right with the Prius batteries (well, so far… but they do have an almost 15 year-old track record on them).

          Honda, on the other hand, got it wrong on the ’06 and newer Civic Hybrids. Remember the battery life conserving secret software update a few years ago? Uh huh. Where they really screwed up was back on the drawing board when they spec’ed a battery that was too small for the job. When they realized that the batteries were wearing out sooner rather than later, they tried to hide it by changing the software, but that just made customers mad by screwing up the car’s mileage and already slow acceleration. Looking back, I’m glad I sold mine when it was about 2 years old with 35,000 miles (nothing wrong with the car at the time but some circumstances in my life had changed).

          So let’s hope for Tesla’s sake that they got it right.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            There were a number of problems with the first Prius batteries. Leaking of individual cells prompted what eventually turned into a recall and individual cell failures did occur.

            There is a reason you don’t seen very many 2001-2003 Prius any more and the battery along with MG 2 failures are the reason.

            Now the 2004 and up they got it right and they seem to be lasting pretty well even in taxi use.

            The Tesla Roadster’s battery packs seem to be holding up pretty well for the most part, so hopefully the Model S battery pack is even better.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Tesla has a 8 year 125,000 mile warranty, longer than the average person who spends that much money on a car will normally keep their car.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          I’m an EV fan and Tesla fan in particular, but let’s not forget that the 8-year warranty on EV batteries is government-mandated, with many weasel words in the fine print from the mfrs.

          Uncertainty about this is one reason I leased my Leaf rather than buy it.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    I’m no Tesla lover, but this is seriously good news for consumers. I’ll probably always be a gas engine person but this kid of innovation in the marketplace has to be applauded. As far as just hating on them because they are electric, well, electric cars have been around since there were cars, there were always battery and range issues that held them back. If Tesla can make the leap, or help make it, more power to them.

  • avatar
    jmo

    If in 5 years (as I expect) Consumer Reports rates the Model S as the most reliable car ever, Elon Musk will be the new Steve Jobs.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Someone please smash a Model S into a Flying Spur (or Phaeton) to see who wins.

    C’mon IIHS, make it happen.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    One typically assumes an EV would sacrifice much to keep the weight down. Not just for range but to compromise for the heavy battery. Tesla has worked magic here.
    I guess they did not compromise then.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    These are great results but the Titantic was unsinkable, the Bismark would terrorize the Atlantic, and the MRAP will be effective against IEDs.

    In my years I’ve seen plenty of cars that are near impossible to rollover, on their roofs. I, sadly, just see this as a challenge for the stupid – and the ranks of the stupid in the owner pool will grow with popularity.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Now I can finally get a good nights sleep knowing that the wealthy are safe in their Tesla’s…………..
    I was so worried for them getting the kids to a $60000 per year college safely!!!
    The rest of us can just DIE..and decrease the folks on food stamps or a regular paycheck!
    Three cheers for the upper class…
    They will be safe in cars…800 mph trains and even in space!

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    First let me say I really love the styling of the S, and I think it’s brilliant looking. Bravo to them for such a safe, beautiful car.

    Second, I’ll ask if they always have such bad panel gaps.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Tesla-Model-S-Signature-Performance-Collector-Edition-/121160549864?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item1c35bb45e8#v4-48

    Good grief!

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      The panel gaps have caught my eye, as well. I’ve noticed an obviously crooked trunklid on one or two cars. The poor build quality makes the car appear flimsy, in spite of its bulk.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    Another car exceeding the 4 times roof crush rating: Subaru Forester. The only reason that didn’t end up in the news is that the machine didn’t break during that test.

  • avatar
    phargophil

    This level of improved safety capability makes me wonder about the impact of this advancement on other makes of cars being sold today and perhaps in the last ten years.

    The reason for this is the recent semi-involuntary recall of Jeep products to install a tow hitch to make the rear mounted fuel tank safer. While Jeep conformed to accepted standards at the time of manufacture, they were at least ostracized (sp?) into upgrading past-production vehicles.

    If this same kind of societal push is applied to vehicles that don’t live up to Tesla’s proven state-of-the-art safety level, will recalls for vehicles that haven’t lived up to the new demonstrated capability now be issued for the installation of roll bars and side bumpers?

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    Has the green star rating at the right hand side of the chart been inverted and should it start with a one instead of a zero?


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