Electric cars didn’t receive the top grades they were seeking from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
The auto insurance crash test results for two luxury electric vehicles – the BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S – were not as high as the automakers had wanted. Both 2017 model vehicles failed to score the top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
As a result, neither the BMW electric vehicle nor the one from Tesla earned the Top Safety Pick award.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards its Top Pick label to vehicles that have been able to achieve the highest possible rating in its auto insurance crash test levels. There are five different types of crash test. The IIHS gives the Top Safety Pick award to vehicles that combine the highest ratings in all five of those tests, in addition to having crash prevention systems and automatic braking.
That said, the IIHS also has an even higher designation called the Top Safety Pick Plus. There, all of the criteria for Top Safety Pick must be achieved, in addition to exceptional headlights. Neither one of the electric cars went home with those designations.
There are 38 vehicles that have attained auto insurance crash test results worthy of Top Safety Pick Plus.
Two of those 38 vehicles are plug-in hybrids: the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Prime. That said, the Top Safety Pick Plus list does not contain a single all-electric vehicle. Still, it is important to note that the IIHS has yet to test all potential all-electric models. The Chevrolet Bolt, for instance, went on sale at the end of 2016 and has not yet been tested.
The Tesla Model S managed to receive good ratings in four out of the five IIHS tests. Its good ratings included the head restraint test and the side impact test. However, the small overlap frontal crash was the downfall of its good score. The Model S did not perform as well in that test which replicates the type of collision experienced if the front corner of the vehicle strikes a telephone pole or tree at 40 miles per hour. The crash test dummy was allowed to strike its head on the steering wheel during that test.
The Tesla Model S is slated to undergo the IIHS auto insurance crash test series again after the automaker made production changes in January to address the issue. That vehicle has previously earned top ratings from the U.S. government crash tests.