Back in 2013, Tesla’s first mass-produced luxury electric sedan, the super-sleek Tesla Model S, was awarded a five-star crash-test rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the U.S., setting it out as one of the safest cars on the road.
Now, Tesla has managed a double-whammy with the announcement that NHTSA’s European counterpart EuroNCAP has also given the luxury plug-in a five star rating.
As detailed by EuroNCAP on its official test results page, the European-spec Tesla Model S 85 kWH was put through the usual rigorous EuroNCAP test, consisting of a suite of frontal, side, and stability tests. In each test, points were awarded for both adult and child occupant protection as well as pedestrian protection.
In line with most cars tested by EuroNCAP, the Tesla Model S fared best for its Adult Occupant protection, scoring 31 points (82 percent) for its protection of driver and front-seat passenger. In all front tests, Driver and passenger protection were classed as Good or Adequate, the top two rating categories for EuroNCAP tests. Only the side pole impact test — a particularly difficult test to pass — yielded a weak result for the driver’s chest area, while the Model S scored full points for side barrier tests.
Whiplash protection for front and rear-seat passengers was classed as good, and the test agency said in its report that it felt a “similar level of [knee and femur] protection would be provided to occupants of different sizes and to those sat in different seating positions,” wherever they were in the car.
One point to note at this point however, is that the Tesla Model S tested by EuroNCAP came under slight criticism for an issue with the front-passenger airbag, which the agency said had ‘bottomed out’ in one test. In other words, there was insufficient inflation of the air bag to prevent the head from hitting the facia through the air bag material. Despite relegating front passenger head protection to adequate for the crash-test ratings, EuroNCAP says Tesla has now rectified the problem in any cars supplied to customers.
Moving on to child protection, EuroNCAP awarded maximum points to Tesla for child protection during all dynamic tests, but criticised the automaker for the interface used to disable the passenger front airbag to enable the installation of a rear-facing child seat, stating that it was “not clear in all languages about the actions being taken to set the airbag status and the system.”
Similarly, when it came to child seat installation, EuroNCAP noted that all child seats could be installed properly in the Model S with the exception of Group I Universal restraints in the rear outboard seats. In these positions, while the seats could be installed, the agency said that the seat cushioning made correct engagement of the ISOFIX probes difficult.
Overall, this yielded a 38 point (77 percent) result for Child Occupant protection.
When examining the Pedestrian protection element of the Model S, EuroNCAP singled out the Model S for its active bonnet system — a safety feature that detects if a pedestrian has hit the car and then lifts the bonnet to provide a greater clearance between it and the harder structures underneath. With the system deployed, test results yielded good ratings for the majority of the car’s bumper, with adequate and marginal protection along the bonnet. Only the car’s outside front edges and stiff window pillars were given a weak or poor rating. Overall, pedestrian protection was rated at 24 points (66 percent).
Finally, EuroNCAP’s tests focused on Safety Assist technologies, awarding a total of 9 points (71 percent) for the Model S’ safety assist technologies.
It’s worth noting that this score was reached by testing both the speed assistance system and lane departure warning system recently announced by Tesla for all Tesla Model S cars made from now on. Without these features, the test scores would have been far less. Despite the EuroNCAP test car being fitted with these two technologies however, we note that the Model S was not tested with an autonomous emergency braking system despite being hard-wired for that functionality. That’s because Tesla has yet to activate this feature on any customers’ cars.
To read the EuroNCAP report for yourself, you can head to the EuroNCAP site, where you can even compare the Model S to other similar cars on the market in terms of safety.
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