Much is said about the safety of Tesla vehicles and the role of the company's Autopilot software in traffic incidents, but there can be little doubt about the top-level protection the cars offer in the event of a collision. A new round of crash testing by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put the company's Model 3 sedan through its paces, finding it performed impressively across all categories.
As you can see in the video from CrashNet1 below, the NHTSA tests these vehicles in a number of ways, including frontal impacts that simulate head-on collisions between vehicles traveling at 35 mph (56 km/h), side impacts simulating crashes into stationary barriers and poles, and the likelihood of the vehicle rolling over. In testing the rear-wheel drive Model 3, the NHTSA found it performed at a five-star level in all aspects, with a rollover resistance rating of 6.6 percent.
Tesla, and electric cars in general, have some distinct advantages over internal combustion engine-powered vehicles when it comes to crash safety. With the motor mounted near the rear axle rather than in the hood, the front end of the vehicle becomes a generous crumple zone to soak up the impact in the event of a head-on collision. This, and the battery pack built into the bottom of the vehicle, also contribute to a low center of gravity, reducing the likelihood of the car rolling over.
As CEO Elon Musk pointed out on Twitter, there is more to crash testing than generalized ratings out of five. The NHTSA also calculates the probability of injury to the occupants, figures that are still forthcoming, though Musk seems pretty optimistic about how his mass market sedan will fare.
You can see footage from the testing below.
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