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NHTSA Tweaks Tesla Over (Correct) Safety Claim, Tesla Shareholder Baillie Gifford Takes Stake In Newbie Nio

NHTSA has issued a statement regarding Tesla’s claim that the Model 3 is the safest car ever tested. It says it does not distinguish between vehicles that earn a 5-star safety rating.

Tesla has been crowing lately about how safe its cars are, based upon crash test data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. While it is undoubtedly true that Teslas do an excellent job of protecting occupants in a crash, NHTSA has taken issue with the company’s public interpretation of the data. In effect, the government is saying a 5-star rating is the highest score available and it does not recognize gradations of safety between the cars that earn that rating. That said, the underlying data available via the NHTSA appears to back up Tesla’s claims.

“A 5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve. NHTSA does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no ‘safest’ vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings,” the agency said. When Business Insider asked NHTSA to clarify its statement, the agency referred BI to a spreadsheet available on its website.

According to the agency’s data, the Tesla Model 3 does in fact have the lowest “vehicle safety score” of any car tested — with the Model S and Model X closest behind — but the agency seems to be saying, “Hey, Tesla, if that’s the way you want to interpret the data, that’s on you. We don’t rank various cars within the 5 star rating group. Any claim the Model 3 is safer than any other car is you talking, not us.”

When BI asked Tesla for a comment, the company also directed it to check the data on the NHTSA website. The bottom line? You can say the Tesla Model 3 is the safest car ever tested by NHTSA based on your interpretation of the data. Just don’t say NHTSA said so.

Largest Tesla Investor Takes Stake In Nio

In other Tesla news, Baillie Gifford & Co, which is the largest holder of Tesla stock after Elon Musk, has made a sizable investment in Nio, the Chinese electric car company that wants to rival Tesla, or at least follow in its footsteps and help take down gasmobiles.

Nio held an initial public offering in the United States last month in an effort to fund its global manufacturing plans. Like Tesla, Nio is pushing aggressively ahead with autonomous driving systems as well.

According to Tech Crunch, Baillie Gifford purchased 85.3 million shares of Nio on Tuesday of this week. The investment amounts to about $515 million and gives it an 11.44% stake in the company. It owns roughly 20% of the outstanding shares of Tesla. Does Baillie Gifford think the future is electric?

Nio’s primary vehicle at the present time is the ES8 electric SUV, which undercuts the prices of the Tesla Model X by a considerable margin (not that is has the same specs). It is currently sold only in China, but the company intends to begin sales in Europe next year before bringing it to the North American market. Yes, the investment indicates Baillie Gifford is bullish on electric cars and believes both Tesla and Nio are poised to enjoy long-term success.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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