Is the Tesla Model Y even safer than Model 3?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) revealed the results of its Tesla Model Y crash safety tests recently. Like all Teslas, the Model Y earned the highest-possible rating during these tests. But there was also a surprise. A comprehensive analysis by The Tech of Tech has produced some fascinating findings.

Above: Tesla Model 3 and Model Y perform crash testing (Source: IIHS via The Tech of Tech)

When looking carefully at the results, it's clear that the Model Y electric SUV has proven even safer than the Model 3. This is because Tesla employs continuous improvement methodology both on the factory floor and in its software development for its cars.

These tests prove that Tesla Model Y has taken the crown from Model 3 for being the vehicle with the least probability of injury. Interestingly, this allows the entire Tesla lineup (including Model S, 3, X, and Y) to occupy all of the top rankings for the world's safest vehicles now.

That said, let's take a look at a few of IIHS's highlights from Model Y's crash tests — especially in comparison with Model 3.

Driver-Side Small Overlap Frontal Test

With the Model Y's advancement in body structure design — Tesla's smaller SUV performed better than Model 3 in the “Driver-side small overlap frontal crash test”. This test reproduces the collision that forces essentially through the vehicle’s driver-side wheel well rather than the entire empty front trunk that acts as the forward crumple zone. 

Model Y successfully redirected the passenger compartment away from the point of collision instead of trying to absorb the impact through the front crumple zone itself. Model 3 did good in this test but did not redirect as much as Model Y.

The numbers coming out of both Model Y and Model 3 tests are even more interesting. For example, in this driver-side small overlap frontal test, Model 3 had 21 cm of footwell intrusion while Model Y had only 1 cm of intrusion. This is an impressive achievement on behalf of the Tesla safety engineering team.

Tesla Model Y also performed around three times better in the head injury criterion (HIC) — Model Y scored 22 points and Model 3 had scored 88 points in this test. The concussion mark is set at 250 points for head injury by the IIHS.

Moderate Overlap Front Test

In the moderate overlap front crash test, the vehicle strikes a 2 foot tall deformable honeycomb barrier offset at 10% from its centerline at a speed of 40 mph (64.3 km/h). This tests the safety of the entire front crumple zone of a vehicle.

When compared side-by-side, Model Y performed better in the moderate overlap front test vs Model 3. As a result of the impact, the Model 3 windshield had fractured. Meanwhile, due to its height and impact absorption mechanism, the Model Y windshield stayed intact.

Above: Echoing the results of IIHS, here's a look at how the NHTSA crash tests also showcase the elite safety profile of Model Y (Twitter: Tech Insider)

Like the previous small overlap, Model Y performed well in the head injury collision (HIC). While the dummy in Model 3 experienced a HIC of 177, the one in the Model Y got only 107 — well below the concussion mark of 250. 

In the t-bone collision test, Model Y did exceptionally well especially for the front passenger, most probably due to its higher sitting position compared to the Model 3.

The dummy in the Model 3 experienced a head injury collision (HIC) of 237 (just below the 250 concussion mark) vs. the Model Y-front passenger which only received a HIC of just 120 points.

Also, Model 3 had scored a torso deflection rate (TDR) of 5.2 meters per second while Model Y did much better with a TDR of just 3.91 m/s.

Roof Strength

This is the only area where the Tesla Model 3 performed better than the Model Y due to its shorter roofline and perhaps also due to the high-strength steel cross member that expands from b-pillar to b-pillar. This cross member steel bar is not present in the Model Y.

In the roof strength test, Model 3 got a 5.85 strength-to-weight ratio score, while Model Y received a 4.2.

We recently witnessed a Tesla Model 3 showing the incredible strength of its roof when a large tree trunk fell on it and all the occupants walked away without any injury.

Comparison Video

YouTube: The Tech of Tech


Written by: Iqtidar Ali. Sources: IIHSTech Insider, and The Tech of Tech via Youtube; An earlier version of this article was originally published by Tesla Oracle. Revised update edited by EVANNEX.