IIHS: Tesla Model 3 Collision Avoidance Rating = “Superior.” What About Other Ratings?

Originally published on CleanTechnica.

The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety is a private testing agency for the insurance industry. In its latest report, it has tested the forward collision warning and emergency braking systems built into the Tesla Model 3 and given them a “Superior” rating.

Every Tesla comes equipped with two systems designed to prevent or reduce the severity of frontal collisions. The first issues visual and audible warnings to alert the driver if a forward collision is imminent. The second applies the brakes automatically. Its operation is tested by the IIHS at speeds of 12 mph and 25 mph. The testing can award a maximum of 6 points, broken down as follows in the case of the Tesla Model 3:

⊕ If the car has a forward collision warning system that conforms to NHTSA standards, it gets one point. The Model 3 meets that criterion.

⊕ The car is driven toward a stationary object (an inflatable replica of an automobile) at 12 mph. If the emergency braking system slows the car by 5 mph, it gets 1 point. If it slows the car by 10 mph, it gets 2 points. The system in the Model 3 reduced the car’s speed to 2 mph before striking the inflatable car.

⊕ The car is then driven toward the same stationary object at 25 mph. If the emergency braking system slows the car by 5 to 9 mph, it gets 1 point. 10 to 21 mph gets a second point. 23 mph or more earns 3 points. The Model 3 slowed the car to 2 mph, so it was awarded 3 points, making the total a perfect score of 6 points. Hence the Superior rating, receiving an “A” rating.

In addition to the front crash prevention matters, IIHS has also tested the Model 3’s headlights. Needless to say, the Tesla Model 3 performs well there as well.

Here was the text description of those test results:

Low beams

On the straightaway, visibility was good on the left side of the road and inadequate on the right side. On curves, visibility was fair in all 4 tests.

The low beams created some glare.

High beams

On the straightaway, visibility was good on the right side of the road and fair on the left side. On curves, visibility was good on the gradual right curve and fair on the sharp right and both left curves.

High-beam assist compensates for some limitations of this vehicle’s low beams on the straightaway and all 4 curves.

There has been a lot of drama swirling around Tesla in the past few days, as its cars have been involved in some serious collisions with Autopilot engaged — one in Utah and another in Switzerland, where the driver was killed and the car was engulfed in flames after a collision with a highway barrier. Many people (including this author) have questioned just how safe Autopilot really is.

It is important, however, to distinguish Autopilot from the forward collision warning and emergency braking systems, both of which are in all Tesla vehicles, not only the ones where the owner has elected to by the “Enhanced Autopilot” suite.

IIHS has not yet completed its full testing regimen for the Model 3, which includes various front and side collision tests, roof strength, and other passenger protection protocols, but we do have some historical precedent from the Tesla Model S, Model X, and other electric and hybrid vehicles to hint at where things may be going.

CleanTechnica actually has a brand new EV safety report coming out any day. Included in that report is some perspective on how much better Tesla vehicles perform with regards to key safety metrics. When it comes to personal injury claims, the Tesla Model S actually performs 61% better than its luxury car competition. In the US, Europe, and Australia, the Model S has received the maximum 5 stars from official safety rating organizations. The Model X got 5 stars in the US and Europe but doesn’t yet have official ratings from Australia.

Furthermore, almost across the board, hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles have significantly better safety ratings from IIHS. They perform better in moderate overlap test ratings, side impact test ratings, and roof crush test ratings. They perform a bit worse in small overlap test ratings. We should see soon enough if the Tesla Model 3 performs better or worse than average in the small overlap test ratings as well as those others. Any guesses?

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