As for the 2017 i3, the smallest electric model in BMW's lineup earned "good" ratings in the following tests: small overlap and moderate overlap, side, and roof strength.
In addition, the IIHS raised concerns about potential leg injuries for drivers involved in small overlap front crashes.
For some reason, the IIHS chose to test electric vehicles together this year and compare their safety ratings based on their own crash tests. IIHS confirmed that it will test the updated vehicle as soon as possible and update the rating. Head restraints and seats are the main offenders according to the IIHS ("average"), as are the headlights and child seat anchors ("average"). Because the rating is based on a strength-to-weight ratio, and the P100D is heavier due to a larger battery, it earned an acceptable rating. "We expect to receive the highest possible rating in every category, making Model S eligible for the IIHS Top Safety Pick award".
The i3's only available headlight system earns an acceptable rating. While automatic braking equipment comes standard, Tesla hasn't yet activated the software for all vehicles.
The i3, a small auto, fails to reach the winner's circle because it rates only acceptable in the head restraint and seat evaluation, which measures a vehicle's ability to protect against neck injuries in a rear crash.
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Ratings for crashworthiness and headlights are good, acceptable, marginal and poor. In fact, Tesla recently lengthened the side curtain airbags in order to improve performance in the small-overlap front crash test, but it obviously wasn't enough. "Model S still has the lowest ever probability of injury of any auto ever tested by NHTSA".
Tesla also earned a "poor" rating for its headlights. The IIHS gave an "acceptable" rating to the Model S. The IIHS says in that test, the safety belt of the Model S allowed the dummy's torso to move too far forward, so the head of the dummy hit the steering wheel through the airbag.
Conversely, the Volt can go longer in electric-only mode at 53 miles while the Prius tops out at 25 miles.
Tesla Motors Inc.'s Model S, once touted by the company as achieving a record-high safety score, fell short of a top designation an insurance group has awarded to 42 other new models on the market. In 2013 Tesla boasted that it had the best crash test ratings ever for a new auto on the new scale. Tesla says it is working with its supplier to improve the headlights, and has made production changes to fix the aforementioned head-contact problem. Both of these will be reevaluated by the IIHS when available.