Tesla’s Model X electric SUV is the first vehicle in its class to have been awarded a five-star rating in every crash test category by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after independent testing was completed Spring 2017.
The U.S. government safety agency threw its full gamut of crash tests at the battery-powered SUV, finding the vehicle’s unique electric architecture proved advantageous in both avoiding a crash and absorbing kinetic energy in a crash.
For instance, the extremely low centre-of-gravity achieved by mounting the Model X’s heavy battery pack low in the floor of the vehicle helps to prevent roll-overs, as the vehicle is more likely to stay planted on its wheels, and is thus better able to avoid a crash, or reduce the severity of a crash.
The electric powertrain in the Model X also offers a major safety advantage by virtue of the large front crumple zone made possible by the compact size of the electric motors, placed low in the chassis.
In the unfortunate event of a high-speed collision, the Model X’s front crumple zone can deform more effectively than those of conventionally-powered SUVs – since their engine blocks are not designed to crumple whatsoever – thus absorbing more energy and reducing the crash impact experienced by vehicle occupants.
Among the tests the Model X was subjected to was a frontal impact; side impact; pole impact; and roll-over crash. Some of the tests focus on energy absorption while others look at the amount of intrusion an object can make into the passenger cabin.
The seatbelt restraint system and airbag deployment system are also analyzed for their effectiveness and reliability in the event of a crash.
Based upon the data collected during its crash-testing regiment, the NHTSA concluded Model X occupants have an overall 93 percent probability of walking away from a crash without serious injuries, making Tesla’s electric ute the most crash-worthy SUV ever tested.