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How safe is the Tesla Model S?

The Tesla Model S has been praised for its startling pace and eco-friendliness, but just how safe is it? Well, according to European testing, it’s about as safe as you can get.

The European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) awarded the Model S a full five-star rating, with it scoring best in the adult occupant protection category followed by child occupant. Pedestrian safety scored the lowest, but was enough to secure a ‘good’ verdict.

Tesla says part of the car’s ability to deal with crashes stems from the lack of an engine in the front, which allows for an especially large front crumple zone to help absorb the impact of a collision. Meanwhile the weight of the battery and low centre of gravity plays a role in keeping the car upright.

Euro NCAP noted an issue with the airbag calibration software that meant the passenger airbag didn’t inflate enough, hence protection of the passenger head was scored ‘adequate’. Tesla said the issue stemmed from a problem with ‘the software supplied by the vendor’.

Euro NCAP also pointed out the lack of autonomous emergency braking. Tesla has so far enabled two features of its clever Autopilot system: lane departure and speed limit warnings. Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and other self-driving features will be enabled at an unconfirmed date.

The safest cars in the Euro NCAP executive class are the BMW 5 Series and Maserati Ghibli, with an overall score of 95 per cent each. The Model S scored 82 per cent.

The Tesla Model S was awarded a five-star NHTSA rating in 2013, putting it in a select group of cars that have a five star safety rating in both the US and Europe.

Fears over safety were raised after reports of three Model S fires last year. A US safety regulator investigation originally pronounced the car safe, but later reinvestigated after two more instances.

If you like the idea of watching a shiny red Model S deliberately crash into a deformable barrier at 50km/h, the following Euro NCAP video awaits. Then be sure to check out our video review.

Euro NCAP crash test of Tesla Model S

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