Tesla says its Model S electric car set safety-test record

Electric-car maker Tesla Motors Inc. said its Model S sedan “set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants” in federal safety tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The company said the received the top 5-star rating “across the board,” reflecting its performance in front, side, rear and rollover accidents.

Tesla also said only about 1% of all cars tested by the federal government get 5 stars in all categories, and added that while NHTSA does not publish star ratings above 5, the agency’s overall vehicle safety score, or VSS, records higher ratings that it shares with manufacturers. Under this expanded scoring system, the Model S received “a new combined record of 5.4 stars,” Tesla said.

“Model S achieves best safety rating of any car ever tested by US govt,” Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted following release of the tests.

NHTSA officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Tesla said the Model S has an advantage in front-end crashes because it has no engine block under its hood. As a result, there is a longer, more consistent “crumple zone” to absorb the energy of impacts. Tesla explained it this way:

“Just like jumping into a pool of water from a tall height, it is better to have the pool be deep and not contain rocks.”

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