Tesla claims receiving 5.4-star safety rating, NHTSA says it was 5

Tesla’s Model S did receive a rare perfect 5-star safety score from the National Highway Safety Administration. However,  the agency says it wasn’t 5.4 as Tesla touted in a news release.

Model S score results were posted to the regulatory entity’s Safercar.gov website, but according to ABC News, NHTSA issued a statement that it does “not rate vehicles beyond 5 stars and does not rank or order vehicles within the star ratings.”

Only one percent of cars across all categories tested by NHTSA reach the 5-star eschelon and the all-electric Model S, with a one-foot wide engine mounted near the rear axle, is one. Since the car lacks a gasoline engine in the front, it has a longer so-called “crumple zone” to withstand head-on impact and provides higher driver passenger safety.

On the side pole intrusion test, the Model S emerged as the only vehicle that passed with “good” rating. The Volvo S60 garnered a 5-star rating but Tesla claims the Model S preserved 63.5 percent of “driver residual space” as opposed to 7.8 percent for the Volvo.

The Model S performed well in rear crash and rollover risk tests as well. Tesla Model S has an optional third row children’s seat and if this option is ordered, a factory-installed double bumper adds additional protection from highway-speed rear impact.

The Model S lithium-ion battery did not catch fire at any time before, during or after the NHTSA testing, according to the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm.

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