- Tesla’s Model 3 received top marks from safety organizations in North America, Europe, and Australia, including a five star crash test safety rating from consumer information agency EuroNCAP and a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
- The tests indicate overall good performance in crash protection as well as being equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.
- Watch the video above for a breakdown of the Model 3’s features that allowed it to perform well, as well as an explanation of key tests.
Following is a transcript of the video.
The test will commence in four seconds. Three, two, one.
Narrator: This crash looks bad, but you’d actually be safer than you think, much in part thanks to a key missing component. An engine. And it’s one of the many features that makes Tesla’s Model 3 sedan ultrasafe in crashes.
This test is called a frontal offset test. And this car? Tesla’s much anticipated Model 3. It’s an all-electric plug-in, meaning that the front compartment doesn’t have an engine like a normal combustion car would. Instead, all the empty steel and aluminum at the front of the car crumples, drawing the shock of the crash away from the occupants.
Look at this footage of the cabin. The passengers are entirely unscathed. In fact, in this test conducted by safety experts Euro NCAP, the dummies representing the driver and passenger were green across the body, meaning the two were well protected.
A large crumple zone isn’t the only special feature that makes the Model 3 safe. The Model 3 received top overall marks in multiple tests, like roof strength, head restraints and seats tests, and autonomous driver-assistance systems tests, much in part due to the advanced safety technology special on the car.
With help from safety organizations IIHS and Euro NCAP, who performed the crash tests, we’ll break down some of the features that put the Model 3 among some of the safest cars ever built.
Let’s talk about passive safety first.
Passive safety refers to the systems that keep you safe in a crash. So, it mainly focuses on things like airbags, seats, and structure of the car. In the roof-crush test, you can see just how good the structure of the car is. Roof strength speaks to the ability of the car to protect occupants in rollover crashes. During the test, the car’s roof resisted more than 20,000 pounds of force. That’s more than if five Model 3s were placed on top of the car’s roof at once. The roof earned a higher strength-to-weight ratio score than any other fully electric vehicle IIHS has ever tested. IIHS gave the roof an overall evaluation of G, or Good, their highest rating.
Aiding the Model 3’s rollover rating is its all-electric power-train design, the focal point of which is a large, heavy battery at the floor of the car. While we don’t have footage of a Model 3 in a rollover test, the heavy-battery-in-the-floor system is similar to that of the Model X SUV, shown here, a significantly taller car with a naturally higher center of gravity. You can see how the battery in the floor lowers the overall center of gravity, helping the car return to an upright position. We’ve seen how the front of the Model 3 crumpled, sparing the cabin the brunt of the shock of a collision.
But airbags, seat geometry, and restraints also contribute to a higher occupant-protection score. The Model 3 has a thick curtain airbag and uniquely shaped front passenger airbag that help protect a passenger’s head from the car’s A pillar and center screen.
You can see where the dummy’s head, which is smeared in greasepaint, contacted the airbag. While passive safety covers what happens in an accident, active safety refers to the systems that help a car to avoid a collision in the first place.
The Model 3 has a suite of driver-assist systems designed to keep you from getting into an accident, including an automatic emergency-braking system that detects obstacles and stops the car on its own. To test this, IIHS had the Model 3 drive towards a stopped obstacle at 12 mph and 25 mph. The car earned a Superior rating in front crash prevention for automatically stopping at the obstacle both times.
The Model 3 stood out in Euro NCAP’s passive safety tests.
The Model 3 scored an astounding 94% in the Safety Assist category for halting automatically for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as correcting inattentive driving.
Watch the Model 3 in this emergency-lane-keeping test, where the car crosses over a white line denoting the end of the lane towards an oncoming vehicle. The system intervenes, pulling the car back into the lane automatically.
While the Model 3 received top marks from IIHS and other safety organizations, it’s one of many vehicles with excellent safety ratings. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Lexus ES 350 scored top marks in every category, while the Audi e-tron, another electric plug-in vehicle, also received IIHS’s highest safety award. A hydrogen car, the Hyundai Nexo SUV, received results comparable to the Model 3.
Tesla has long touted the super safety of their crash technology, and now the evidence is in.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on October 9, 2019.