Free publicity from a verifiable and credible authority is always great if one can justifiably pull it off, and Tesla has been one of the best at cultivating low-cost resources, and spinning out flattering reports for itself.

But the start-up automaker’s most recent press release stating the federal government’s crash testing lets it say the Model S is essentially the safest car ever rated has just been federally rebutted.

In response to Tesla touting an unofficial 5.4 out of 5 stars, the federal agency responsible issued a release with the photo of a Tesla Model S being crash tested frontally into a wall. It reads as follows:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is committed to improving safety on the nation’s roadways and helping motorists make informed decisions about new or used vehicles they are considering purchasing. The agency’s 5-Star Safety Ratings program is designed to provide consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what is required by Federal standards. One star is the lowest rating; five stars is the highest. More stars equal safer cars. NHTSA does not rate vehicles beyond 5 stars and does not rank or order vehicles within the star rating categories.


The last sentence appears to be a bit of a chide to the over-zealous automaker which saw a public relations opportunity to position its vehicle above all others.

“In addition, the agency has guidelines in place for manufacturers and advertising agencies to follow to ensure that accurate and consistent information is conveyed to the public,” said the rest of NHTSA’s press release.

Thus far, Tesla has not issued a response, but it has in the past guarded its public image to the point of challenging those that impugn its perceived dignity.

We shall see whether it lets this latest rebuke slide, or how it might respond.