Deja Vu: Tesla Gets Into It With the NHTSA - Once Again - After Crash Test Boast

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
deja vu tesla gets into it with the nhtsa once again after crash test boast

Following the release of crash test results in 2013, Tesla claimed the Model S earned more than five stars on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ranking scale. Nuh uh, said the NHTSA. There’s only five stars to hand out. No one gets more than that.

Fast-forward five years and the exact same thing is occurring, this time centered around the just-tested Model 3. That sedan, which still isn’t cheap, earned five stars in all NHTSA crash categories. Kudos to Tesla engineers. However, the NHTSA isn’t happy with Tesla’s weekend boast that suggested the Model 3 is the safest car ever tested by the federal agency.

In an October 7th blog post, Tesla claims crash data released by the NHTSA shows the sedan as having “the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested” — including its Model S and X. The automaker then goes on to detail the various structural attributes of its product.

After sitting out Columbus Day, the agency fired back with a release of its own. Essentially, the five-star rating is the final word on vehicle safety, the NHTSA said, meaning that several other vehicles, including the Toyota Camry and Ford Mustang, share the same top safety rating as the Model 3.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) … conducts a total of three crash tests on new vehicles: one frontal and two side crash tests, as well as a rollover resistance assessment – a driving maneuver test that assesses a vehicle’s susceptibility to tipping up and a measurement of how top-heavy a vehicle is,” the agency wrote.

“Results from these three crash tests and the rollover resistance assessments are weighted and combined into an overall safety rating. A 5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve. NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no ‘safest’ vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings.”

While the Model 3 data is there for anyone to pore over, the NHTSA has a rulebook for automakers who wish to use its ratings for the purposes of PR. Because of this, even though Tesla is on solid ground with its claim of low injury probability, it’s still stepping out of bounds with regard to the NHTSA. There’s the possibility of consequences.

Thus far, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has not responded to the NHTSA’s statement. Perhaps he’s thinking up some cool acronyms.

[Source: Bloomberg] [Image: Tesla]

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11 of 20 comments
  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Oct 10, 2018

    Asdf: And yet, doggone it, more people are purchasing these EVs - much to the consternation of those who feel somehow threatened. Tesla/Musk, however, need to chill on the over-the-top tweets and claims; they're only hurting themselves.

    • See 7 previous
    • Ect Ect on Oct 11, 2018

      @Asdf "The beauty of EV charging is that you don’t have to stand next to the pump squeezing electrons into the tank. You can do other things like grocery shopping or catch up on email." This must be why, on a recent road trip, when we stopped at at Dunkin Donuts to relieve ourselves and pick up fresh coffee, we saw a charging station in the parking lot with 2 Teslas plugged in. And 2 guys in the store, doing not much of anything, who were there when we arrived and still there (doing not much of anything)when we left a couple of minutes later. We did stop at the gas station across the street to refill, which took all of maybe 2 minutes. The Teslas were still there when we got back on the road. QED

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Oct 11, 2018

    Totally off topic, but isn't charge time a matter of physics at this point is battery development? I know of no battery that can take on a complete charge in 5 minutes.

    • JimZ JimZ on Oct 11, 2018

      yes. the initial charge (up to ~75-80%) can be done at constant current, relatively quickly. the last 20% or so has to be done at constant voltage, which is a lot slower. otherwise you risk lithium plating on the anode which permanently degrades the cells. Asdf's dumb rants are mostly because he refuses to accept any other behavior than "re-fueling my car is something I have to go somewhere to do." When- if you have an EV- you likely plug in at home and wake up to a "full tank" every morning. but any time the topic of EVs comes up, there are always people who act like everyone is a cross-country furniture delivery person who has to drive 800 miles every day.

  • Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
  • ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
  • SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.