A made-in-China Tesla Model 3 was, unfortunately, involved in a bad accident in China. The fortunate thing is that the vehicle’s architecture protected the passengers as it was flipped over. In the tweet, below, you can see the passengers standing around the wreck.
— K10✨ (@Kristennetten) June 23, 2020
One of the many things that people commented on was the fact that it was an “achievement” to flip the Tesla over onto its roof. The car’s batteries are in a skateboard shape under the car, which makes it very hard to flip over.
The Model 3 is one of the safest vehicles ever made, and despite having a glass roof, it’s very difficult to crush the roof.
Here is the video of the accident. pic.twitter.com/IK4i1SYCSy
— Ray4Tesla⚡️🚘☀️🔋 (@ray4tesla) June 23, 2020
The Architecture Of The Tesla Model 3
The architecture of the Model 3 is something that is key to its high safety ratings. For example, the glass roof is something that would normally be seen as a weak link. After all, glass shatters … right? Not as much as you may think in the case of Tesla. The metal panel that forms the roof of a legacy automaker’s vehicle is itself usually one of the weakest pieces on the vehicle. When it rolls over in an accident, there is little protection for the passengers. Tesla’s glass roofs are made of a very strong glass and are also shaped in a way that makes them hard to crush.
The glass roofs have two layers of hardened glass that have been laminated with a thermoplastic. This makes them harder than any thin sheet of metal commonly used in vehicle roofs. Here are some previous photos of a Tesla Model 3 accident:
More photos below
BTW this serious accident happened in Guangdong China.
— ⚡️特拉风🦔T☰SLA mania⚡️ (@Tesla__Mania) December 29, 2019
As noted above, one factor that makes it incredibly hard for a Model 3 to roll over in an accident is the floor-mounted battery design. This adds extra weight at the bottom of the vehicle (around 1,000 pounds in a Model 3 Long Range). When you have all of this weight at the bottom of the vehicle, it’s challenging to flip or roll over the car — but we don’t recommend trying.
Another small detail in Tesla’s architecture lies in the battery cells. Note that in a recent fire, a Model S was almost completely destroyed, melted, but the battery pack remained undamaged! Tesla has noted that its safety system works to isolate a fire to select areas within the battery while also venting the heat away from the passenger cabin and the vehicle if a battery cell fire ever breaks out.
Tesla’s designs and its focus on safety reach into even the smallest details, and this can be seen on a grand scale when an accident occurs. The Model 3 achieved the lowest overall probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by the NHTSA’s US New Car Assessment Program, and #2 and #3 were the Model S and Model X. (Results from Model Y tests haven’t yet been published.)
The fortified structure of a skateboard battery pack in the vehicle’s floor is a key component in Tesla’s design that focuses on safety beyond preventing rollovers. Tesla writes that the “rigid, fortified structure of the battery pack” rarely incurs serious damages in accidents.
Model 3 Safety Ratings
In 2018, side from finding that the Tesla Model 3 has the lowest chance of injury ever recorded in its crash tests, the NHTSA also found found that the Model 3 had the lowest chance of crash of any care the NHTSA had ever tested. Read that again. Out of all the cars that the NHTSA has ever tested since its inception, the Model 3 has the lowest chance of injury.
Model 3 has the lowest overall probability of injury for any car ever tested by @nhtsagov. Model S is #2. Model X is #3. There is no safer car in the world than a Tesla
— Tesla (@Tesla) October 8, 2018
These safety provisions can be felt two years later — as we see in this crash above in which the passengers walked out safely — and they continue to improve. Just to remind you, the Model 3 earned top safety scores in all 8 test categories of the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety as well.
The Model 3’s all-electric powertrain design, its rigid aluminum and steel passenger cabin, and the large crumple zone* that is in place where a fossil fuel engine would normally go all make the Model 3 a unique choice if safety is a priority for you.
Usually, when someone is in a major accident and they are able to literally walk away without a scratch, this is miraculous. When it comes to the safety of its customers and their passengers, Tesla has made miraculous a safety standard.
*This zone helps the vehicle to absorb energy more effectively by dissipating force away from the passenger cabin.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.