Auto insurance crash test results weren't what Tesla and BMW wanted

Posted February 03, 2017

BMW has announced the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the 2017 BMW 2 Series Coupe and 2017 BMW 3 Series Sedan a "Top Safety Pick+".

Every vehicle receiving the 2017 Top Safety Pick award from IIHS must receive first-rate grades on all five of IIHS's crashworthiness tests.

Neither earned the institute's "Top Safety Pick" award, which is given to vehicles that get the highest rating in five different crash tests and offer a crash-prevention system with automatic braking. Neither one of the electric cars went home with those designations. One of the improvements recently introduced in January 2017 specifically addresses the "Acceptable" (or second highest) rating that the Model S achieved in the small overlap frontal crash test, and we expect new tests to yield the highest possible rating ("Good" rating) in the crashworthiness category.

The luxury sedan Tesla Model S did not meet the requirements for one of the most hard tests - the small overlap front crash test. However, all those Model S cars built after October 2016 did not get through the fifth crashworthiness test. This test is created to see how well the seats and head restraints protect against neck injuries in a rear crash. The Tesla Model S and BMW i3 were not among that group. Those which also come with good or acceptable headlights, earn a "Top Safety Pick+" award.

There's more to an IIHS safety rating than just crash tests. That means the company failed to scoop the 2017 Top Safety Pick award, which was given to 43 other new vehicle models.

This Sept. 20, 2016, photo provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows a 2017 BMW i3 before crash safety testing.

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Lastly, the organization gave the 2017 Model S a poor rating for its headlights.

The Model S results will undoubtedly attract the most attention in the latest IIHS crash tests, but the BMW i3 also faltered with an "acceptable" mark in the head restraint and seat evaluation.

The experts did not test it for front crash prevention because tesla is upgrading its software.

In addition, the IIHS raised concerns about potential leg injuries for drivers involved in small overlap front crashes. Both popular plug-ins registered high ratings in front, side and roof crash protection, the safety of their head restraints, and headlights. An optional front protection system, when fitted, nudges the i3 into the "advanced" rating.

The Prius Prime is the plug-in version of the regular Prius hybrid, previously a Top Safety Pick Plus victor.