When compiling safety ratings, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rewards the car being rated with up to five stars in a variety of categories. Five stars is supposed to be the highest rating that a car can receive, but according to a press release from Tesla, the Model S electric vehicle achieved a rating of 5.4 stars.
How is that possible? Well, although the NHTSA does not actually provide vehicles with ratings above five stars, they do allow an automobile’s Vehicle Safety Score to include information that could suggest a safety rating that would be above the highest metric. This information, which is provided to automakers, can then be extrapolated outward to arrive at a vehicle safety rating above five stars.
The 5.4 rating puts the Tesla Model S in privileged company. Around 1% of vehicles that the NHTSA puts through testing receive a five star designation. Tesla is claiming that their safety rating is higher than any vehicle ever tested.
One finding stood out from all the rest. The company’s press release claims that four or more Model S’s could actually be placed on top of the automobile before the roof collapsed. It further states that getting an exact weight threshold was difficult due to the fact that the testing machine in this category supposedly broke when testing the Model S.