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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  • 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.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?