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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tesla says Model S crash test score is best NHTSA has ever recorded

by Jonathan Ramsey of AutoBlog

"We found out a couple of weeks ago that the Tesla Model S aced the crash tests administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. What we didn't know until Tesla filled in some of the details is that the Model S scored more than five stars on the way to recording the best result of any car the NHTSA has ever tested. While NHTSA's highest public rating is five stars, the Vehicle Safety Number it gives to manufacturers can go higher, and Tesla says the Model S scored a 5.4. That's a better result than has ever been achieved in NHTSA testing of a passenger car, SUV or minivan.

Tesla's press release says that after its internal tests showed that it would score five stars on government's crash tests, it addressed any other weak points it found on the vehicle to ensure it would get perfect marks "no matter how the test equipment was configured." It was already going to do well in the frontal test, as the lack of an engine allows much more leeway in creating an occupant-saving crumple zone. And the rollover test was aided by the battery pack being located in the floor. The low center of gravity meant that the Model S couldn't be rolled over "via the normal methods and special means were needed to induce the car to roll."

Nested aluminum extrusions along the hatchback's flanks took care of the side pole intrusion test, the Model S not only scoring five stars but, according to Tesla, leaving nearly nine times more "driver residual space" post-impact than the five-star rated Volvo S60. And when the roof of the Model S was tested for crush resistance, the testing machine broke just after it crossed the four-G mark - the Model S, on the other hand, didn't."

Ruggles writes: A neighbor bought one of these. It is flat out beautiful. I have seen them at auto shows and at a Tesla showroom, but this is the first one I've seen on the road. My wife made me go around the block for another look, and she is ambivalent about cars.

I predict the beef over the Tesla company owned showrooms will blow over. Even Elon Musk isn't rich enough to finance a real distribution system, even if he included all of his friends. As long as they are a boutique manufacturer, he'll be just fine with the current setup, as we noted in a May 23rd post on Tesla's Distribution Challenge. The next step, if he gets that far, will require a dealership system. He will be selling off his company owned stores for large multiples. It isn't practical to try to attract investors if they know they would be having to compete against their supplier. Then there are those pesky franchise laws.