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As Tesla continues making inroads into the European marketplace, it can now tell prospective customers its car is one of the few that is 5-Star rated in the U.S. and EU.
Achieving the top ranking for both the U.S. and European NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) is tougher as the Europeans and Americans have different criteria that mean a car designed to excel for one standard may do less well in another.
The U.S. federal government makes a priority of structural and restraint safety, and absorption on impact energy to protect adult occupants. The Europeans however check for child and pedestrian safety, as well as impact energy.
Crash dummy supplier Humanetics is developing obese crash dummies up to 273 pounds to simulate overweight Americans and child dummies too. But federal standards were last updated in 2011, whereas the EU updates them annually to account for industry technological development.
“The dual 5-star ratings for Model S validate our holistic approach to safety,” said Tesla in a statement. “We have been engineering passive and active safety systems in parallel, so the car is structurally sound and is also designed to intelligently anticipate and react to potentially dangerous situations.”
That the Model S is built robustly has been shown by federal tests by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and in real-world crashes here and there.
When Tesla topped the charts in 2012 it did state that it got “5.4 stars” out of a possible 5.0 stars NHTSA assigns. Subsequently the feds mildly rebuked Tesla and said there is no such thing as more than 5 stars.
But the Model S also does well with no engine under the hood. In a conventional car, a severe-enough frontal impact can push that several-hundred pound chuck of metal into the occupant section with dire consequences for flesh and bone in the occupant comparment.
Model S has a frunk, so maybe your groceries or luggage etc. would get crushed, unless you carry heavy solid objects in it as well.
Tesla is also rolling out the autopilot feature with semi-autonomous capabilities like automatic steering, Lane Departure Warning and Speed Limit Warning, and more, to enhance that aspect of the safety equation.