John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Tesla’s Model S Breaks Roof-Testing Machine, Car-Safety Record

Not only is electric automaker Tesla’s Model S sedan the safest car on the road today, evidently it’s the safest car ever.

Earlier this month, the Model S was given a five-star crash-test rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), capturing top marks in frontal crash, side crash and rollover tests. Only about one percent of all cars tested by the NHTSA are awarded five stars across all categories, so that’s quite an achievement.

But it turns out that Tesla’s Model S actually scored higher than that on the agency’s overall vehicle safety score, a rating it shares only with car manufacturers. Under that scoring system, the car achieved a 5.4-star rating. And that’s a new record, according to Tesla, which points out that it surpasses not only the top score of other sedans, but all SUVs and minivans, as well. The Model S may well have bested the scores of a heavier class of vehicle, were it not for the fact that the car busted some of the NHTSA’s equipment during testing.

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. 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.

Impressive. Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk once joked that the Model S would get six- or seven-star ratings from the NHTSA if the agency’s rating system went that high. Seems he wasn’t all that far off.

More great news for Tesla, which has been garnering quite a bit of it lately. In May, Consumer Reports said the $89,650 Model S might be the best car it has ever tested. And last November, Motor Trend named the vehicle its 2013 Car of the Year, making it the first electric car to ever earn that accolade.

Here’s a fascinating interview with Elon Musk from our D11 conference in May:

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus