• Tesla Claims Model 3 Achieves "Lowest Probability of Injury" Ever Tested by NHTSA

NHTSA refutes the claim, however

Tesla’s compact Model 3 sedan is clearly one of the safest cars on the market today, receiving a perfect 5-star safety rating after being tested by the NHTSA. To add to that, Tesla has claimed that the Model 3 scored the lowest probability of injury score ever recorded by the NHTSA.

The Model 3 is fresh off receiving a 5-star rating from the NHTSA after completing the full NCAP tests earlier this year. The smallest Tesla was awarded five stars across the board, including each sub-category, and for standard safety equipment. Now, Tesla posted on their blog that the Model 3 is also the car with the lowest likelihood of injury in case of a crash out of all the cars ever tested by the NTHSA.

Learn more about how safe the Model 3 is and why NHTSA doesn’t quite agree with Tesla

Tesla Claims Model 3 Achieves "Lowest Probability of Injury" Ever Tested by NHTSA
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Tesla’s Model S and Model X are stout when it comes to safety, but the Model 3 (the long-range RWD version) seems to be the safest of the lot. The new electric compact sedan was tested by the NHTSA and received a 5-star rating.

Following each test, the administration gathers all the data and then adds the probability of injury up to put together the Vehicle Safety Score.

All the cars tested each year have a compiled score which is then posted publicly on the NHTSA’s website.

Tesla took the data from NHTSA’s website and now claims that their Model 3 is the safest yet when it comes to how likely it is to incur injuries following a crash aboard the car. "The agency’s data shows that vehicle occupants are less likely to get seriously hurt in front, side, and rollover crashes when in a Model 3 than in any other car," said Tesla in a blog post. "NHTSA’s previous tests of Model S and Model X still hold the record for the second and third lowest probabilities of injury, making Tesla vehicles the best ever rated by NHTSA. We expect similar results for other Model 3 variants, including our dual-motor vehicles, when they are rated."

Tesla Claims Model 3 Achieves "Lowest Probability of Injury" Ever Tested by NHTSA
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Tesla then went into detail talking about how the Model 3 achieved this result. "In addition to its near 50/50 weight distribution, Model 3 was also designed with an extremely low polar moment of inertia, which means that its heaviest components are located closer to the car’s center of gravity. Even though Model 3 has no engine, its performance is similar to what’s described as a “mid-engine car” due to its centered battery pack (the heaviest component of the car) and the fact that Model 3’s rear motor is placed slightly in front of the rear axle rather than behind it. Not only does this architecture add to the overall agility and handling of the car, but it also improves the capability of stability control by minimizing rotational kinetic energy."

The car passed with flying colors through the frontal impact tests and Tesla took the time to explain why on their blog.

"In frontal crashes, Model 3’s efficient front crumple zone carefully controls the deceleration of occupants, while its advanced restraint system complements this with pre-tensioners and load-limiters that keep occupants safely in place. Specially designed passenger airbags are shaped to protect an occupant’s head in angled or offset crashes, and active vents dynamically adjust the internal pressure of the frontal airbags to optimize protection based on the unique characteristics of the crash. Front and knee airbags and a collapsible steering column work to further reduce injury."

Details of how the car copes with crashing head-on into a pole are also present, the manufacturer stating that "energy-absorbing lateral and diagonal beam structures work to mitigate the impact." Tesla also made sure that small crumple zones on the sides don’t take their toll on the Model 3’s side protection. "We patented our own pillar structures and side sills to absorb as much energy as possible in a very short distance. These structures work alongside the vehicle’s rigid body and fortified battery architecture to further reduce and prevent compartment intrusion."

Tesla Claims Model 3 Achieves "Lowest Probability of Injury" Ever Tested by NHTSA
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Then there’s the event of a rollover crash which, although seemingly unlikely, accounts for some 35% of all passenger vehicle deaths over a period of 12 months. As such, Tesla made the Model 3 rigid enough so that "the body structure can withstand roof-crush loads equivalent to more than four times its own weight and with very little structural deformation. NHTSA’s standards only require that cars withstand loads of three times their own weight."

All of this is great news for current Model 3 owners as well as prospective customers, but Tesla's claim as "the safest car when it comes to the probability of injury" is rebuked by the NHTSA.

The administration said that those scores are not a way to distinguish between cars which are only set apart by their results in the 5-star rating system. "NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that [5-star] rating, thus there is no ’safest’ vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings."

Further reading

2018 Tesla Model 3 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

Source: Tesla

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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