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Tesla Motors, Inc.’s (TSLA - Analyst Report) Model S has won the top vehicle safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Model S obtained a five-star rating overall and also for each of its subcategories. This is indeed a coveted award for Tesla as only 1% of cars tested receive the 5-star rating from NHTSA. The board assesses vehicle performance in frontal, side and rear crash tests and resistance to rollover.

While the star ratings have a cap of 5, the Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) can cross this cap, although it happens rarely. However, Model S has managed to obtain a score of 5.4. With this, Tesla’s Model S sedan ensures exceptional safety to the passengers as it has the lowest possibility of injury to passengers among all major cars sold in the U.S. The safety score of this sedan exceeded the score of most sports utility vehicles and minivans.

Model S does not have a gasoline engine block. Thus, the front section of the car provides a significantly longer crumple zone to absorb a high speed impact. The long crumple zone ensures better safety to the occupants.

Moreover, Model S is equipped with multiple deep aluminum extrusions in the side rail. This helps in absorbing the impact energy of a side pole intrustion and spreads the load to the rest of the vehicle. As a result, Model S became the sole car in the top 1% of the tested cars to receive a good rating in the side pole intrusion test. The sedan preserved 63.5% of the driver residual space compared with 7.8% for the Volvo S60, which also received 5-star rating from NHTSA in all categories.

The vehicle offers a double rear bumper if the optional third row seat is installed. This provides protection against a highway speed impact in the rear and avoids any disabling injury to the third row occupants.  In the rollover test, Tesla’s Model S is significantly better than other sedans as the battery pack of the car is placed below the floor pan, which provides a very low center of gravity and ensures safety.

Even Ford Motor Co.’s (F - Analyst Report) 2013 Ford Focus Electric was awarded the top vehicle safety rating by the NHTSA in February. In the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) testing by NHTSA, Focus obtained a five-star Overall Vehicle Score. The 2013 and 2014 Ford Focus sedan and hatchback were also bestowed with a five-star Overall Vehicle Score.

Tesla designs and manufactures electric vehicles and electric vehicle power train components for partners including Toyota Motor Corp. (TM - Analyst Report) and Daimler AG (DDAIF). Tesla anticipates delivering little over 5,000 Model S vehicles in the third quarter of 2013 and 21,000 vehicles globally in 2013. It currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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