After Tesla’s ‘best car’ boasts, the NHTSA stresses its scale only goes to five

Tesla Model 3 crash test

In a verbose blog post, Tesla bragged about building the best car the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ever tested. It proudly paraded the Model 3‘s five-star crash test rating and hailed the electric sedan as the car with the lowest probability of injury, a claim backed up by data. The statements initially went unchecked — Tesla published the post over the weekend — but it didn’t take long for the agency to issue a response.

It turns out that the Model 3 is indeed safe, as the crash test data shows, but the NHTSA stressed that its rating system doesn’t go above five stars.

“A five-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 five-star ratings,” the agency wrote on its official website. It didn’t specifically mention Tesla, but the timing of the announcement — and the nature of Tesla’s claims — leave little doubt that the statement is a response to the California-based firm.

Earning a five-star safety rating is an impressive achievement, and it’s easier said than done. It makes the Model 3 one of the safest new cars sold in America. Data gathered by the NHTSA (and analyzed by Jalopnik) does show the Model 3 has a lower probability of injury than any car tested since 2011. However, the relatively long list of new and late-model cars with a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA also includes the 2013 Subaru Legacy, the 2015 Audi A4, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the 2018 Subaru Impreza, the 2018 Volvo S60, and the 2019 Buick LaCrosse.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has raised eyebrows at the NHTSA. In 2013, it trumpeted the record-breaking 5.4-star safety rating earned by the Model S. This achievement made the S the safest new car in America, the company claimed. The NHTSA quickly stepped in to remind Tesla officials there is no such thing as a 5.4-star safety rating. It also established new guidelines that forbid automakers from advertising a score higher than five stars.

Bloomberg points out companies who make extravagant claims about crash test ratings can get in trouble with other agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission. That’s the last thing Tesla needs right now, it already landed on the wrong side of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but there’s no indication the FTC will take action against the company.

Updated 10-10-2018: Corrected the story to reflect that Tesla called the Model 3 the NHTSA’s best car, not its safest car, and added information about crash test data.


Tesla drops Full Self-Driving option from online configurator to spare ‘confusion’

Tesla no longer offers a Full Self-Driving (FSD) option for Models S, X, and 3 in the company's online configuration tool. CEO Elon Musk said the FSD option caused confusion. Its software validation and regulatory approval could take years.

Galaxy S10 leak shows radical tech that could help Samsung kill the notch

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Tesla keeps promise with more affordable Model 3 with midrange battery pack

Tesla is keeping its promise of making the Model 3 gradually more affordable. The company released a new variant of the car with a mid-range, 260-mile battery option that's priced under the $50,000 mark.

Porsche’s all-electric Taycan sedan will cost less than a Panamera

Porsche's Mission E concept won't change much as it transitions to a production model named Taycan that's scheduled to arrive in 2019. That means the sedan will keep the sleek design and its 800-volt charging system.

Volkswagen’s next-generation lights will keep you safer, look good doing it

Volkswagen's new smart LED headlights, called IQ.Light, don't just light up the road in front of you to keep you, other drivers, and pedestrians safe. They also look dang good while doing it.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second electric car will fill a new niche

Porsche surprised us at the Geneva Auto Show with an electric station wagon named Mission E Cross Turismo. Though it's a concept car, it could become a production model after the Mission E sedan arrives in showrooms.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford briefly flashed an enigmatic new model in a minute-long commercial starring Bryan Cranston. Its front end borrows styling cues from the 2019 Mustang, but it doesn't have a grille and its emblem is back-lit.

U.K. on-demand car service plans autonomous vehicles in London by 2021

U.K.-based Addison Lee and Oxbotica allied to serve the connected and autonomous vehicle services market. Addison Lee is an established executive car service and Oxbotica develops self-driving car systems and fleet management software.

Protect yourself (and maybe capture something crazy) with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Cars's free on-demand self-driving car service is now available in Frisco

After deploying its self-driving shuttles in Frisco, California-based start-up is launching a second pilot program in Arlington. Riding in a shuttle -- which operates in a geo-fenced area -- is free.

Ford’s self-driving cars hit the streets of the nation’s capital

Ford is deploying self-driving cars in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate their capabilities to lawmakers and ordinary citizens alike. The automaker plans to launch a production autonomous car in 2021.
Emerging Tech

World’s first drone-equipped motorcycle features a special space for the Spark

If your sidecar is missing a drone or your drone a sidecar, then check out how the two machines have been brought together in this unique design from Ural Motorcycles. Only 40 have been made, though that may turn out to be enough.

Wirelessly charging an EV in 15 minutes sounds crazy, but it’s getting closer

Researchers at the Department of Energy want you to be able to wirelessly charge your electric vehicle in just 15 minutes. And they've recently passed a major milestone on the journey to that goal.