Two all-electric cars miss the mark for IIHS safety awards – IIHS News


Electric vehicles and plug-ins are increasingly popular way to go green and save on fuel. We put four models to the test for safety. The two all electrics, Tesla Model S and BMW i3, fell short of our criteria for safety awards. In contrast, the two plug-ins, Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Prime, earn our TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation. To earn the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in all five of our crashworthiness evaluations – the small overlap front, the moderate overlap front, the side, the roof strength and head restraints evaluations – plus it must be available with an advanced or superior front crash prevention system and acceptable- or good-rated headlights. The Tesla Model S experienced problems in the small overlap front crash test. The safety belt allowed the dummy’s torso to move too far forward, and its head hit the steering wheel hard through the airbag. Tesla plans to make changes to the seat belt to improve protection in small overlap front crashes. When those changes are in place, we’ll run another test to find out how well they’ve done. The most powerful version of the Model S has another problem. The P100D is rated acceptable for roof strength, which is important in rollover crashes. The rating is based on how much weight the roof can support. Even though all Model S cars have the same roof structure, the P100D weighs more so it only earns an acceptable rating. The BMW i3 is rated good in the small overlap front crash test. However, it misses the TOP SAFETY PICK+, because it’s only rated acceptable in our rear crash evaluation of the seats and head restraints. In contrast, the Toyota Prius Prime and the Chevrolet Volt earn a TOP SAFETY PICK+. The Prius Prime has an edge in that state-of-the-art safety is standard equipment. No need to check a box on the options list to get a top-rated front crash prevention system or decent headlights. There’s no reason the most efficient vehicles can’t be among the safest. We hope that BMW and Tesla continue to refine the designs of their electric models to maximize safety.