Tesla Motors celebrates its 5-star safety rating, and the Model S broke the roof crush testing machine

Much has been made about Tesla Motor’s Model S sedan. How the all-electric ride will rivet your attention from the start.

But CEO Elon Musk has been focused on safety as much as style.

On Monday, Tesla proudly announced that the Model S achieved the best safety rating of any car ever tested, earning a 5-star safety rating overall and in every subcategory from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not only that: during validation of Model S roof crush protection, the testing machine failed.

“Of note, during validation of Model S roof crush protection at an independent commercial facility, the testing machine failed at just above 4 g’s,” wrote Tesla in the press release. “While the exact number is uncertain due to Model S breaking the testing machine, what this means is that at least four additional fully loaded Model S vehicles could be placed on top of an owner’s car without the roof caving in. This is achieved primarily through a center (B) pillar reinforcement attached via aerospace grade bolts.”

The NHTSA rating is a huge honor for a company that prides itself on the fact that, to date, is unaware of any Model S or Roadster occupant fatalities.

“Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants,” said Tesla.  “While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans. This score takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents.”

The Model S was also substantially better in rollover tests. Tesla says the “Model S refused to turn over via the normal methods and special means were needed to induce the car to roll.  The reason for such a good outcome is that the battery pack is mounted below the floor pan, providing a very low center of gravity, which simultaneously ensures exceptional handling and safety.”

Tesla’s Model S sedan

Dana Hull Dana Hull (252 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.