Two luxury electric vehicles participated but fell short of getting the highest safety ratings in new crash tests by the insurance industry. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the 2017 models of the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3. Neither model achieved the institute's "Top Safety Pick" award, which is only given to vehicles that get the highest rating in five different crash tests and provides a crash-prevention system with automatic braking. In order to achieve a higher standard for the "Top Safety Pick-Plus" the vehicles must meet all the prior requirements and have good headlights. However to say both vehicles tested poorly is misleading since they both did very well and were just a bit off to hit the highest rating.
The all electric Tesla Model S earned the top mark "good" from the IIHS in all respects except for one of the hardest tests. The small overlap front crash test which simulates running into a utility pole or other narrow object on one extreme side of the car or the other where it achieved an "acceptable" rating on the test. However the Model S' LED reflector headlamps, both adaptive and standard, turned in a "poor" performance rating along with the strength of its roof which also got a poor rating. The Model S starts at $72,500. As for the BMW i3, which is also an all electric vehicle, scored just a bit lower than the Tesla Model S. The i3 won an "acceptable" rating for its inability to protest drivers from neck injuries because its seats and head restraints got a lower rating. While the lower rating is "rarely fatal," it can still lead to "debilitating pain," said IIHS. The organization's executive vice president David Zuby said in a release that drivers shouldn't be too worried. The BMW i3 starts at $42,400.
"There's no reason the most efficient vehicles can't be among the safest," said Zuby. "We hope Tesla and BMW will continue to refine the designs of their electric models to maximize driver protection and, especially in the case of Tesla, improve their headlights." Although the two all electric vehicles did not earn the highest safety rating, two popular plug-in vehicles did. The Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Prime both made the grade as they were both designated as "Top Safety Pick Plus" vehicles. They excelled in front, side, and roof crash protection and safety of their head restraints and they had really good headlights. The systems in place for the Prius Prime is the same for all the Prius models and therefore all Prius models will be "Top Safety Pick Plus."