Tesla S Safety Reputation Crashes in Tests

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The Model S was rated "Good" in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint/seat tests but only received the "Acceptable" rating when it came to the small overlap front crash test. The auto earned good ratings in the four other crash-test categories.

The IIHS also says it was unable to test the Model S' automatic emergency braking system because Tesla hasn't activated its Autopilot system on all of its vehicles yet even though it's standard equipment. The crash tests they conducted were also done on other electric cars from Toyota and Chevrolet which both passed with flying colors, watch the video below. The IIHS also criticized Tesla's choice of headlamps for the Model S; the automaker says it's working with suppliers to improve them.

Compared with the 2017 Prius Prime and the 2017 Chevy Volt, the BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S weren't just safe enough to merit a "Top Pick +" by the IIHS.

Tesla also earned a "poor" rating for its headlights. However, all those Model S cars built after October 2016 did not get through the fifth crashworthiness test.

The IIHS says it plans to test the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric auto soon. In the insurance group's test, the dummy's head hit the Model S steering wheel through the airbag after the car's seat belt allowed the dummy's torso to move too far forward. Neither one of the electric cars went home with those designations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Wednesday that the Tesla Model S, a hit in the high-end luxury sedan segment, failed to win the top ratings in its crash tests because it fell short in a few key areas. The "plus" is awarded to vehicles that meet all those criteria and also come with good or acceptable headlights (see "In the best light: 2017 Top Safety Pick+ winners meet new headlight criteria", December 8, 2016). This test uses a real-world crash scenario to determine if a vehicle could cause possible injuries after a crash.

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Its fastest model, the Model S P100D, gets knocked for its roof strength. For its headlights, the i3 earned the rating of "acceptable", which is the second highest level.

The IIHS is an independent organization that runs its own crash tests, independent of the government.

Tesla believes those improvements will change the conclusions of the IIHS.

It fell short in the head restraint test, which measures how well the vehicle protects against neck injuries in a rear crash.

However, the IIHS says that the i3 and Model S won't require extensive modifications like the up-for-a-redesign Leaf does.

The Prius Prime is the plug-in version of the Prius hybrid, also a Top Safety Pick+ victor.

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