Several scores kept the Model S from getting the TSP+ designation. The i3 was quite close to receiving the honor.
Update: Tesla has released a statement about the Model S' performance in the IIHS evaluations. "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." The full text is in the press releases section below.
BMW also responded to the results. "We narrowly missed the IIHS rear impact test rating of 'Good' and therefore the BMW i3 does not achieve a IIHS Top Safety + rating. However, the BMW i3 with its carbon-fiber structure is designed to meet and exceed global safety standards."
The Tesla Model S and BMW i3 didn't receive the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ honor in a recent round of crash tests for electrified vehicles. Neither model was able to score Good ratings in all of the agency’s collision evaluations – a requirement for receiving the award.
"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,” said David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, in the announcement.
The Model S fell short of the TSP+ rating by receiving less-than-perfect marks in several tests. In the small overlap front crash test, the EV received an Acceptable rating because the seatbelt let the dummy’s body move too far forward allowing its head to hit the steering wheel through the airbag, and sensors showed likely injury to the lower right leg.
The Acceptable rating applies to the Model S with production dates from October 2016 to January 23, 2017. Tesla claims a production change addresses the issue, and IIHS plans to test the improved sedan as soon as it gets one.
The IIHS also found that the range-topping Model S P100D had Acceptable roof strength, while other variants received the top Good score. The difference was because the P100D's batteries, which made the vehicle heavier.
Regardless of whether the Model S has the optional curve-adaptive headlights, IIHS gives them a Poor score (the group’s lowest rating). For both the low and high beams, visibility was fine when going straight but was in inadequate when turning in all four of the agency’s evaluations.
The Model S also does not yet have a rating for its front crash prevention. According to IIHS, “while automatic braking equipment comes standard, Tesla hasn't yet activated the software for all vehicles.”
The i3’s major crash safety setback came from its head restraints that scored an Acceptable rating. The evaluation checks a vehicle’s ability to protect against neck injuries in a rear-end collision. “While such injuries are rarely fatal, they are the most common type of crash injury and can cause debilitating pain,” IIHS reported.
If not for this setback, the i3 would have received a TSP+ rating. The IIHS rated its front crash prevention system as Advanced and headlights as Acceptable.
To receive the Top Safety Pick designation, a model needs top scores in the five crashworthiness evaluations and must have a front crash prevention system with an Advanced or Superior rating. TSP+ is for vehicles meeting those criteria and with Good or Acceptable results for the headlights.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Institute