After earning a five-star overall government crash safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we knew the 2013 Tesla Model S was a safe car. What we didn’t know is that it’s the safest car ever tested by the agency. Ever. Of all time.
According to the company’s blog, composite scores in testing can exceed five stars even though that’s the maximum that will ever show up on documentation. That said, the Tesla Model S earned 5.4 stars. It broke the rating scale. It also broke the NHTSA’s roof-crushing machines, taking more than 4 Gs of force before the government testers had to give up.
Thanks in part to aerospace-grade bolts, having a larger front crash structure thanks to missing an engine, and a fair amount of expertise from the other Elon Musk venture, SpaceX, the Model S aced everything. It didn’t even come close to failing any single test. The only other car to have ever come close to the sort of safety standards that the Tesla Model S has is the 2005 Ford GT supercar. And guess what? The engineer who helped design much of the structure of the Ford GT also worked much of his magic on the Tesla Model S.
Tesla proudly notes that during all testing, the battery was never harmed and never caught on fire — a jab at Chevrolet with early examples of its Volt plug-in hybrid-electric car and the Fisker Karma. Of course, GM is now studying the Model S to see how it’s succeeding where so many electric cars before it haven’t.
So the car’s a bit expensive and the interior materials could afford a little bit of an upgrade. And working every function of the car through a giant iPad in the center console can get a little annoying. But it’s fast, huge, luxurious, reliable, feature-packed, futuristic, quiet, and safer than any car has ever been. If you’re still a non-believer, you may have to have your head examined.