Tesla Birth Watch 30: NHTSA Saves Tesla From Bankruptcy

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

As Darryl Siry promised, the Tesla Roadster will meet all federal safety standards. Well, all but the advanced air bag rule, that is. Yesterday, Tesla received a pass from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Tesla will not have to equip its Roadster with air bags that deploy with varying force depending on the weight of the passenger and force of the impact. That's not such a big thing– the Lotus Elise (upon which the Tesla Roadster is based) receives the same exemption. But the NHTSA's rationale is unprecedented: "public interest is served by encouraging the development of fuel-efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles." The AP reports that NHTSA was worried that the advanced airbag rule would bankrupt Tesla– given the erstwhile automaker's $43m operating losses from 2003 – '06. Tesla would have to "cancel its pending development of an electric-powered sedan, and would ultimately have to terminate its operations." So if GM can't meet some requirement with the Volt without spending tons of money, do they get to slide? Oh and "based on information provided by the automaker, NHTSA estimates the waiver will cover 3,825 Roadsters, including 625 vehicles this year and 1,600 in each of the following two years." Last we heard, Telsa was talking about building one car a week.

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  • Lewissalem Lewissalem on Jan 29, 2008

    Surprised? The mainstream media has already given the Tesla an exemption from building the car.

  • Frank Williams Frank Williams on Jan 29, 2008
    Drew I don’t see this as being that big of a deal, and I don’t understand why TTAC does. After all, the Ferrari F430 that just received a rave review is also exempt from the same rule. And as I pointed out, so does the Elise. The exemption itself isn't the problem. It's the NHTSA's rationale for giving it: "public interest is served by encouraging the development of fuel-efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles." If that's the case, they'd better get out their rubber stamp because any diesel or hybrid would fit those same parameters and their manufacturers should be given the same latitude.
  • Drew Drew on Jan 29, 2008

    Fair enough, Frank. If I had read your post more slowly I probably would have gleaned that for myself.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Jan 29, 2008

    I never thought about that. I guess the Ariel Atom must have some sort of exemption since it certainly doesn't have air bags. Of course, it does have a fire supression system. Coooolll.