Tesla Model S vs Tractor Trailer — Collision Demonstrates How Solidly Tesla’s Sedan Is Built

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In yet another example of the impressive safety of the Tesla Model S, in a recent rear-end collision between a tractor trailer and a Model S, the electric sedan managed to come out of things with not much more damage than the truck. Importantly, the driver of the Model S apparently walked away with no injuries. (Remember: The Model S received the highest NHTSA safety rating in history.)

So, to reiterate that: a sedan and a tractor trailer were in a collision and they apparently experienced comparable levels of damage. Obviously, not all collisions between a tractor trailer and a Model S would have resulted in such a situation — depending on specifics, some collisions would no doubt destroy a Model S completely (this is a tractor trailer that we’re talking about here) — but the crash is still an impressive illustration of how sturdy the Model S is built.

Teslarati provides the details:

“The silver Model S seen in the photo had been purchased by Redditor ExMachina70 on eBay, and was being driven to him by a person hired by the original owner. The photos make it pretty clear what happened. The tractor trailer slammed into the rear of the Model S while it was on the highway. The driver of the car walked away with no reported injuries. The rear of the Tesla was heavily damaged but what is surprising is the amount of damage done to the front of the semi. The photos you see here were taken by the driver and forwarded to the new owner, who posted them on his Imgur account, as scooped by The Drive.

“Title had not yet passed, so the loss is on the original owner, not the buyer. If you are selling a car, there’s a good reason not to cancel your insurance until the money has been paid and the paperwork completed.”

Since we’re on the subject, it seems probably worth discussing here the news that the Tesla Model S didn’t achieve Top Safety Pick status in the newest IIHS report.

To explain the situation — in order to achieve “Top Safety Pick” status, a vehicle must score a “Good” rating in all 5 crash test categories. In the case of the Model S, “Good” wasn’t achieved in one procedure relating to seat belt design — apparently, the Model S front seat belt design allowed for the driver’s head to come in contact with the steering wheel in some circumstances, going by IIHS testing. Update: Tesla has already fixed this, releasing the following statement:

“We are committed to making the world’s safest cars, and Model S has previously received a 5-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP. Model S still has the lowest ever probability of injury of any car ever tested by NHTSA. 

“We proactively develop updates and aggressively implement changes onto the production line in record time any time there is a substantial benefit to customer safety. One of the improvements recently introduced in January 2017 specifically addresses the “Acceptable” (or second highest) rating that the Model S achieved in the small overlap frontal crash test, and we expect new tests to yield the highest possible rating (“Good” rating) in the crashworthiness category. 

“Additionally, IIHS tested a vehicle that was in transition with new Autopilot hardware, but without the new software that enables Automatic Emergency Braking. In the coming weeks, Automatic Emergency Braking will be deployed via a free over-the-air software update, and IIHS will be testing a new vehicle. We expect to receive the highest possible rating in every category, making Model S eligible for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award.”

Photos by EXMACHINA70

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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