NHTSA Not Happy With Tesla Claim About Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Credit: NHTSA
The controversies continue for Tesla. In a blog post just this past Sunday, Tesla writes:
Based on the advanced architecture of Model S and Model X, which were previously found by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to have the lowest and second lowest probabilities of injury of all cars ever tested, we engineered Model 3 to be the safest car ever built. Now, not only has Model 3 achieved a perfect 5-star safety rating in every category and sub-category, but NHTSA’s tests also show that it has the lowest probability of injury of all cars the safety agency has ever tested.

NHTSA tested Model 3 Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive as part of its New Car Assessment Program, a series of crash tests used to calculate the likelihood of serious bodily injury for front, side and rollover crashes. The agency’s data shows that vehicle occupants are less likely to get seriously hurt in these types of crashes when in a Model 3 than in any other car. NHTSA’s previous tests of Model S and Model X still hold the record for the second and third lowest probabilities of injury, making Tesla vehicles the best ever rated by NHTSA. We expect similar results for other Model 3 variants, including our dual-motor vehicles, when they are rated.

However, according to auto industry newspaper Automotive News:
In a statement Tuesday, NHTSA said that its crash tests combine into an overall safety rating and that it does not rank vehicles that score the same ratings.

“A 5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve,” the agency said in the statement, which did not name Tesla. “NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no ‘safest’ vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings.”

The Tesla Model 3 did receive 5-Star ratings in front and side crash tests, plus rollover prevention and an overall 5-Star rating as well. However, so did the 2018 Mustang, Accord, Impreza, Legacy, and Camry.
NHTSA has rules against advertising terms such as “safest” and “perfect” and says they are misleading. Misleading claims can also cause problems with the Federal Trade Commission.
Tesla got a warning back in 2013 for saying the Model S had an overall score that “equated to” 5.4 stars, on a 5 Star scale.
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