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Tesla responds, questioning IIHS motives after Model S fails to impress in crash test

Tesla Model S IIHS Crash Test

Tesla’s class-leading Model S did not fail the most recent crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the electric sports sedan did not achieve a top rating in one particular test, the results of which were published late on Wednesday. The test results have caused a bit of a buzz, especially considering how well the Model S had performed in similar tests in the past. And the test in question is a crucial one, designed to judge a vehicle’s performance in a front-end collision where the impact occurs on the driver side.

Following the release of the test results, Tesla has issued a statement in response to concerns that its flagship sedan did not achieve top scores.

The IIHS test in question is designed to assess a vehicle’s performance when a collision occurs at the front driver-side corner of the car. The test, referred to by the IIHS as a “small overlap front crash test,” simulates a typical impact with a tree or another vehicle.

Tesla’s Model S achieved the highest possible rating in each of the IIHS’s tests aside from the small overlap front crash test, where the sports sedan only managed an “acceptable” rating. Meanwhile, the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes E-Class and Toyota Avalon all received the highest overall rating in the test.

Here’s a video showing a Model S crash test similar to the one conducted by the IIHS:

According to Reuters, the IIHS determined that the Model S’s seat belt and air bags were not effective in the test, and they could fail to prevent the driver’s head from striking the steering wheel. In response to the claims made by the IIHS following its most recent round of testing, Tesla issued a statement.

“IIHS and dozens of other private industry groups around the world have methods and motivations that suit their own subjective purposes,” a Tesla spokesperson said. “The most objective and accurate independent testing of vehicle safety is currently done by the U.S. Government which found Model S and Model X to be the two cars with the lowest probability of injury of any cars that it has ever tested, making them the safest cars in history.”

Tesla shares slid more than 7% to close at $327.09 on Wednesday. The stock continued to fall during the after-hours session, and was down nearly 3% to $317.50 at the time of this writing.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.