Tesla Model 3 all-wheel-drive sedan nets perfect safety score from federal testers

July 11, 2019

Federal highway officials this week gave the 2019 Tesla Model 3 all-wheel-drive electric sedan a perfect, five-star overall score for crash safety, including five stars in every subcategory. The perfect mark from the NHTSA follows a similar rating for rear-drive versions of the Model 3 released last year.

Regulators in Europe this week also gave the Model 3 perfect scores in its crash tests, including tests of its crash-avoidance technology.

Official test data isn't yet available, although federal testers gave the dual-motor Model 3 five stars in every subcategory including front- and passenger-side front protection, front and rear side barrier and pole protection, and five stars in a calculated rollover test.

The five-star rating across the board from federal testers is relatively rare—many crossovers receive four-star ratings in the rollover score, and many other vehicles get four-star scores in subcategories despite earning a five-star overall score.

The NHTSA uses its five-star score to measure risk of serious injury relative to a baseline of 15 percent, which was the fleet average for new cars in 2008. A five-star overall score denotes a reduction of risk by one-third or more, a four-star score denotes a reduction by up to one-third. Very few, if any, new passenger cars are rated three stars or lower.

The insurance industry-funded IIHS hasn't yet released comprehensive ratings from its tests, which are conducted independently from government testers. The IIHS rated the headlights on Model 3 sedans built after June 2018 as "Good," its highest rating. (Sedans built before July 2018 were equipped with headlights rated as "Acceptable," one grade lower.) The IIHS also said the standard automatic emergency braking system fitted on Model 3 sedans rated "Superior," its highest rating.

In a separate report, the IIHS said none of the driver assistance systems tested by the agency qualified as "self-driving."

"One name in particular—Autopilot—signals to drivers that they can turn their thoughts and their eyes elsewhere, an IIHS survey found...None of these systems reliably manage lane-keeping and speed control in all situations," the IIHS wrote last month.

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