Tesla NHTSA safety ratings claim spurs heated debate image

After billionaire and Tesla cofounder Elon Musk braghed about Tesla Model S being the safest car NHTSA ever tested, the reactions were rather skeptical, both from the American institution and other professionals.

The electric car maker said in a press release Monday that the Tesla S “set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants,” with a combined score of 5.4 stars and exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans.

Also, Musk went further and bragged on Twitter: “Model S achieves best safety rating of any car ever tested by US govt.”

But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement posted on its Web site this week that its highest score is 5: “The driving public should know that NHTSA does not rate vehicles beyond 5 stars and does not rank or order vehicles within the star rating categories.”

NHTSA did not name Tesla in its statement but said automakers should follow its guidelines when the companies make claims about the safety results. Jim Hall, managing director of 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, said Tesla is on thin ice with its claims.