Two electric vehicles fall short of top insurance safety ratings

Electric cars, despite their advanced systems, still have to improve in terms of safety

Two electric vehicles fall short of top insurance safety ratings

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

Despite growing interest in autonomous cars - vehicles that could potentially disrupt the auto insurance space because of their improved safety performance - it would seem that some current hi-tech vehicles still have a way to go before they can meet the leading safety standards.

Electric-powered cars Tesla Model S and the BMW i3 both fell short of receiving top marks in crash tests conducted by the insurance industry.

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Both vehicles were recently tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) using the latest 2017 models. In both cases, neither car got the institute’s “Top Safety Pick” award, awarded to those automobiles that get the highest rating in five different crash tests. The award is also given to cars that have a crash-prevention system with automatic braking.

Cars that not only meet the aforementioned requirements, but also possess headlights that meet performance criteria are awarded the highest designation: “Top Safety Pick-Plus”.

According to CTV News, 38 cars were given the “Top Safety Pick-Plus” designation for the model year of 2017. Among them were the hybrids Toyota Prius Prime and the Chevrolet Volt. No all-electric cars made it to the list, however.

Of note, the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt - which was released late 2016 - has yet to be tested by the institute.

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The Tesla Model S, priced at $72,500 and up, apparently earned good ratings in four of the institute’s five tests (which included a side impact test and a head restraint test). The car though, earned a lower rating in a small overlap frontal crash test. During the test, the Model S’s safety belt allowed the crash dummy to move too far forward, letting the dummy’s head hit the steering wheel.

The institute said that since the test, Tesla has made changes to the Model S to address this issue; a retest is in the works with the improved car.

Reportedly, the Model S earned the highest ratings on US government crash tests, but those tests differ from the IIHS’s own.

CTV News additionally reported that the Model S’s headlights earned a “poor” rating. The high-performance version of the Model S, the P100D, also got a lower ranking on the roof strength test since its larger battery becomes a safety liability once the car gets into a rollover crash.

On the other hand, the BMW i3 (priced at $42,000 and up) also earned good ratings in four categories, but failed in the head restraint test. For its headlights, the i3 earned the rating of “acceptable,” which is the second highest level.

Related stories:
Fatal Tesla Autopilot crash investigation: Criticism but no recall
How many Canadians will drive autonomous cars?

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