Tesla Model 3 has the lowest injury probability and best side pole impact performance – NHTSA testing

Tesla Model 3 has the lowest injury probability and best side pole impact performance – NHTSA testing

The Tesla Model 3 has been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States and found to have the “lowest probability of injury” of all the cars tested by the agency, the Palo Alto, California electric vehicle maker said on its official blog.

This is in addition to the Model 3 scoring the highest possible five-star rating in every category and sub-category, the company added. The vehicle tested was the Model 3 Long Range rear-wheel drive model, by the NHTSA as part of its New Car Assessment Program, where crash tests are conducted to determine the likelihood of serious bodily injury from front, side and rollover crashes.

The Model 3’s high safety rating is attributed to its “near-50/50” weight distribution and low polar moment of inertia, where the car’s heaviest components are located closer to the car’s centre of gravity. This is aided by a performance similar to what’s described as a mid-engined car in terms of having its battery, the heaviest component of the car, positioned in the centre, while the motor is slightly ahead of the rear axle.

Frontal crashes are managed by crumple zones in the Model 3’s structure, while the airbags are designed to protect the occupant’s head in the event of angled or offset impacts. The frontal airbags themselves feature active vents, according to Tesla, which vary the internal pressure to optimise protection based on the crash. Knee airbags and a collapsible steering column contribute to the safety rating, said Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 has the lowest injury probability and best side pole impact performance – NHTSA testing

Pole impact protection on the Model 3 comes courtesy of energy-absorbing lateral and diagonal beam structures, comprised of high-strength aluminum bumper beam, a sway bar place low and forward ahead of the car, cross-members at the front of the steel subframe that are connected to the main crash rails, and additional diagonal beams in the subframe.

The front suspension assembly also has an ‘ultra-high strength martensitic steel beam’ to further absorb crash energy from severe impacts, while the rear part of the subframe is U-shaped and buckles down upon impact. These structures also accommodate the front motor for the dual-motor, all-wheel drive model, and the subframe is designed to pull the front of the motor down and out of the way, says Tesla.

The Tesla Model 3 also boasts the least structural intrusion from side pole impact of any vehicle tested by the NHTSA, the company says. Tesla patented its own pillar structures and side sills in order to absorb as much crash energy as possible in a very short distance, and work alongside the vehicle’s body and battery architecture to reduce compartment intrusion, while less intrusion into the cabin gives the airbags more room to inflate and cushion the occupants, the company added.

While Tesla models such as the Model 3 are designed to have a low centre of gravity thanks to the battery pack and motors being located as low in the car as possible, Tesla’s internal tests show that the Model 3 structure can withstand up to four times its own weight, with little deformation, the company said, noting that the NHTSA only requires cars to be able to withstand three times their own weight.

GALLERY: Tesla Model 3

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Mick Chan

Open roads and closed circuits hold great allure for Mick Chan. Driving heaven to him is exercising a playful chassis on twisty paths; prizes ergonomics and involvement over gadgetry. Spent three years at a motoring newspaper and short stint with a magazine prior to joining this website.



  • Engineer on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:34 am

    But in contrast, with Autopilot turned on, it has the highest risk of getting into and accident. Moral of the story, don’t turn it on just yet

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11
    • Where do you get this info?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
      • Tesla on Oct 11, 2018 at 5:13 am

        All Tesla vehicles produced in our factory, including Model 3, have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver.

        Build upon Enhanced Autopilot and order Full Self-Driving Capability on your Tesla. This doubles the number of active cameras from four to eight, enabling full self-driving in almost all circumstances, at what we believe will be a probability of safety at least twice as good as the average human driver. The system is designed to be able to conduct short and long distance trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat. For Superchargers that have automatic charge connection enabled, you will not even need to plug in your vehicle.

        All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, the car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination or just home if nothing is on the calendar. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts, and handle densely packed freeways with cars moving at high speed. When you arrive at your destination, simply step out at the entrance and your car will enter park seek mode, automatically search for a spot and park itself. A tap on your phone summons it back to you.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
    • steve m on Oct 10, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      You claim to be an engineer and seem to have made a false claim. Do you have data to back up your claim? Where did you get your engineering degree from?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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