The Strategist

IIHS: Tesla, BMW need to work on driving-safety issues

02/01/2017 - 12:54

Crash tests of four cars conducted by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed that all four models - hybrid Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Prime plus electric Tesla Model S and BMW i3 – are worth to give them a try. However, a minor number of the hybrid models’ parameters still showed greater reliability than their electric counterparts.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted crash tests to determine degree of reliability of Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Prime, Tesla Model S and BMW i3. The first two models are equipped with hybrid engines, two second run completely on electricity. IIHS traditionally holds five types of crash tests to assess reliability of the car: frontal collision with a partial overlap with a small area of overlap (both at a speed of 64 km/h), side collision, tests on head restraints’ safety and durability of the roof. In addition, the institute assesses quality of the headlights. The test’s scale grades from "good" and "acceptable" to and "bad". IIHS experts noted that all four models have proved to be good. However, BMW i3 and Tesla Model S didn’t get all the high points, and quality of Model S’s headlight was rated "poor".

According to results of the crash tests, all four models received the highest rating for crash safety with partial overlap (when an obstacle covers 40% of the vehicle’s front), side impact and rollover. Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Prime and BMW i3 also successfully passed test on collision with a small area of overlap (when an obstacle covers 25% of the car). Electric Tesla Model S was rated "acceptable" - in case of collision, the driver can be hit by the steering wheel, even if the air bag inflates. At the same time, Model S’s head cushions are safer than that of BMW i3. 

Thus, Chevrolet Volt received all the top scores on all six tests. Toyota Prius Prime is also doing good except for "acceptable" for the headlights. BMW i3 has got two "acceptable" (headrests and headlamps), and Tesla Model S is "acceptable" in collisions with a small area of overlap and "bad" with its headlights. At the same time, all Model S of 2017 release are equipped with such headlights. The study notes that Tesla company is already in talks with headlights manufacturers to improve the cars’ quality, after which IIHS will test the model once again.

Commenting on the results of crash tests, executive vice president of IIHS David Zuby said: "The most efficient cars could well be among the most reliable. We hope that Tesla and BMW will continue to improve design of their electric vehicles to enhance driver protection, and, especially in case of Tesla, improve performance of headlights."