The Tesla Model S earned a 5-star safety rating, both overall and in each individual category, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The company claims that the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.
Around 1 percent of cars tested by the NHTSA earn five stars in every category. Tesla claims that the Model S was able to earn a 5.4 star rating because the NHTSA, which does not publish star ratings above 5, captures safety levels above 5 stars in the Vehicle Safety Score, which it sends to manufacturers. Tesla says this rating is tops among every major make and model in the United States.
The best part of the company’s release was this badass factoid:
“Of note, during validation of Model S roof crush protection at an independent commercial facility, the testing machine failed at just above 4 g’s. While the exact number is uncertain due to Model S breaking the testing machine, what this means is that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in.”
In the press release, Tesla noted that “it is possible to game the regulatory testing score to some degree by strengthening a car at the exact locations used by the regulatory testing machines.” However, the company claims that it analyzed the Model S, determined the car’s weak spots, and then retested until it was sure the car would receive a 5-star rating no matter how the test was administered.
The safety rating prompted Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff to tweet high praise.
I agree with @elonmusk@TeslaMotors S is best car ever. I want an X.
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) August 20, 2013
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a car with no gasoline tank invented by a billionaire who also runs a space company is super safe, but the rating should nonetheless boost Tesla’s and the Model S’s appeal to customers.
A recent study shows the car has been purchased mostly by young, affluent males, a much different demographic than the one attracted by other electric cars. The higher safety rating could help Tesla, the Model S or as a company, reach other demographics, such as people with children.