Last year the Tesla Model S made news by achieving one of the best crash test ratings in the history of accident testing. The 5 star rating even came at the cost of the roof-crushing machine used by the NHTSA, which broke while trying to crush the Model S. Proving this wasn’t just a fluke, the Model S has just aced the Euro NCAP Crash Test, achieving a full 5 out of 5 stars.
The European New Car Assessment Programme is one of the most rigorous on the planet, and the Model S is one of just a handful of vehicles receiving a 5 star rating from both the NCAP and NHTSA tests. That’s because the tests focus to varying degrees on different safety aspects of new vehicles, with the NHTSA test focusing on structure, restraint, and impact absorption, particularly of adult passengers. The NHTSA is updating its tests soon (including fatter dummies), and plug-in vehicles run the gamut from great to not-so-great safety ratings. For the most part though, plug-ins do pretty well, which has led to lower insurance costs. BYD’s electric buses have managed to ace government crash testing too, though the Europeans tend to do things differently.
The Euro NCAP tests are broader in scope and variety, utilizing both adult and child crash test dummies of varying weights to determine more precise safety ratings. The NCAP test also places a special emphasis on active safety features like lane departure warnings, which was just added to the Model S starting in September. Not every EV has fared as well as the Model S though, as the Nissan e-NV200 managed a just-average 3 out of 5 stars on the NCAP.
Tesla was able to build such a safety vehicle because the electric drivetrain enables for the kind of low center of gravity and structural rigidity many conventional cars can only dream about. In more than two years of sales, there’s been just one publicized death in a Model S, which is giving the growing automaker a well-deserved reputation for safety. The superiority of electric vehicles is becoming hard to ignore, especially in the realm of protecting those you care the most about.