Business Management

Tesla aced its government safety test so hard it broke the testing machine

If vehicle safety has you so concerned you're actually looking into what kind of permits it takes to make a tank street legal, maybe it's time to consider picking up your very own Tesla. The electric vehicle start-up produced some mind-bending results during safety testing for the 2013 Tesla model S.

Earlier in August, the Tesla S earned a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in all the categories it tests for including head-on collisions, side impacts, and roll overs.

But the NHTSA's rating tells only half the story.

Tesla recently announced some of the details of its first major round of safety testing. Only about one percent of all cars tested by the NHTSA earn an across-the-board five-star rating like the Tesla S, according to the company. Tesla also claims its car sets a "new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants."

Whether or not that is just company bravado, the results of the Tesla S are pretty impressive. For starters, the company's roof crush protection was so good it broke the testing machine at an independent commercial facility. The machine was applying a force of 4 g's at the time.

That means, according to Tesla, you could stack four fully loaded Tesla S vehicles on top of a fifth Tesla and the bottom car's roof wouldn't collapse-- Tesla says it can't be sure if that's the maximum pressure the car can take, seeing as how it broke the testing equipment.

Related to the roof's rigidity, the car also has a low center of gravity thanks to the battery pan in the Model S. As a result, the Tesla S resisted all conventional attempts to induce the car to roll over.

Other highlights for the Tesla S's NHTSA performance included driver-side protection that was able to preserve 63.5 percent of the driver's residual space after impact. Tesla says to protect against side impacts, the Tesla S features multiple deep aluminum extrusions in the car's side rail that help absorb energy from an impact.

Tesla also scored top marks for its rear crash testing and for high-speed impacts. Tesla credits the latter to not having a large gasoline engine block, meaning it can have a larger crumple zone to reduce the force of the impact.

But enough talk! Here's a Tesla getting slammed and living to tell the tale.


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