US government takes apparent shot at Tesla

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a statement on Tuesday that it does not evaluate vehicle safety beyond its star rating system — an apparent response to Tesla’s claim that its Model 3 sedan gives occupants a lower probability of receiving a serious injury in a crash than any other vehicle tested by the government agency.

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

A Tesla representative directed Business Insider to a government website that links to a spreadsheet with NHTSA crash-test data. (You can find the spreadsheet here.)

The spreadsheet lists injury probabilities for different collision scenarios associated with 2018 model year vehicles and a cumulative “vehicle safety score” for each vehicle (the combined injury probability for each crash scenario divided by 15%), which the NHTSA calls its “baseline injury risk” in a 2008 edition of the United States Federal Register.

The Model 3 has the lowest “vehicle safety score” of any vehicle on the spreadsheet, which means the NHTSA determined that it presents the lowest risk of injury in its various collision scenarios.

When asked to comment on Tesla’s claims about injury probabilities, the NHTSA directed Business Insider to its statement.

In a post on its website, the automaker said Model 3 occupants have less than a 6% chance of suffering a serious injury during a collision. The automaker also said its Model S sedan and Model X SUV have the second and third-lowest injury probability ratings of any vehicle tested by the NHTSA, respectively.

In September, the agency gave the Model 3 a five-star overall safety rating. The Model 3 received a five-star rating in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover categories, and some of its driver assistance features — like forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking, and dynamic brake support.

The Model S and Model X also received five-star safety ratings from the agency.

Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.


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