The Tesla Model 3 quickly earned a reputation for safety. Our look at the engineering of the Tesla Model Y crossover, which is based on the 3, revealed even more structural improvements. Now Tesla claims the Model Y is the safest SUV ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for rollover risk.
NHTSA’s assessment “determined that Model Y has a rollover risk of 7.9%, the lowest of any SUV recorded to date by the organisation,” according to a statement released by Tesla on Wednesday. This information does not appear to be immediately available in NHTSA’s online records, however, and it’s unclear whether Tesla was supposed to disclose such detailed information.
Typically, NHTSA only categorizes its crash test results in relatively vague terms. Vehicles are selectively chosen year-to-year for crash testing, and then are assigned a star rating based on the results, with the top award being a 5-star rating. Sometimes these ratings are divided into category, but NHTSA does not traditionally directly compare specific data points like Tesla is attempting to do here, at least not officially. We reached out to NHSTA for more information about Tesla’s claim and disclosure and will update when we know more.
The specific trim involved in the NHTSA test referenced by Tesla was equipped as a Model Y Long Range All-Wheel Drive, and it earned a five-star rating in every testing category.
Here’s some alleged detail of the testing done on the Model Y and some insight into how the Model Y’s design contributes to such an impressive result from Tesla’s press release:
Rollovers significantly increase the risk of injury during an accident. To calculate rollover resistance in NHTSA’s test, Model Y is parked on a suspended platform that rotates in all directions to physically measure centre of gravity and moments of inertia. NHTSA’s assessment determined that Model Y has a rollover risk of 7.9%, the lowest of any SUV recorded to date by the organisation.
As with all Tesla vehicles, Model Y’s architecture is fundamentally designed to have a very low centre of gravity, which is accomplished by strategically placing its heavy battery pack and electric motors low down in the vehicle.
Back in 2018, Elon Musk preemptively announced the Tesla Model 3 had the lowest probability of injury, citing then-upcoming results of NHTSA testing. Musk was reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter by the organisation. Is that what he’s doing again? Does it really matter? The car is safe. Maybe, one day, another car will be safer and the Model Y will have to fight for its name, but today doesn’t have to be that day.