BMW i3 & Tesla Model S Fail to Score IIHS Awards

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Automotive Editor

Zac Estrada is an automotive journalist and contributing writer who hails from Santa Barbara, CA. Zac attended Northeastern University's School of Journalism in Boston and currently runs the automotive blog Confessions of an Autoholic. 

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, Automotive Editor - February 1, 2017

For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested some electric-only vehicles, and the results were good for some, disappointing for others.

The plug-in Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Prime scored the highest safety rating from the agency, Top Safety Pick Plus, after both cars scored high marks in a barrage of tests. But the all-electric BMW i3 and Tesla Model S fell short because of design flaws, according to IIHS.

The Tesla fell short in the small overlap test, despite structural changes in cars built after September 2016. In that test, the Model S scored the second-highest Acceptable level. The all versions of the all-electric sedan received poor marks for their headlight performance, while the heaviest and fastest P100D model only got an Acceptable mark on the roof strength test.

BMW's i3, however, scores well in every test except for head restraints, which weren't up to the top score IIHS demands to get the best overall safety rating. It's a category pretty much every other car aces these days.

Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius Prime do well in all of the tests, including in accident prevention with their forward collision mitigation systems (with Toyota offering that technology standard – it's optional on the Volt). The Volt's optional auto-high beam headlights also get top marks.

For Tesla owners, it's not that the Model S isn't safe, but it doesn't score as well as other large luxury sedans right now. Tesla says it's working to upgrade the headlights and will make more revisions to improve the car's performance in these tests in the future.

, Automotive Editor

Zac Estrada is an automotive journalist and contributing writer who hails from Santa Barbara, CA. Zac attended Northeastern University's School of Journalism in Boston and currently runs the automotive blog Confessions of an Autoholic. 

Follow On: Twitter

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