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Audi e-tron Tops Tesla with an Unfair Advantage

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has just revealed that the first all-electric vehicle to earn a “2019 Top Safety Pick+” is none other than the Audi e-tron.  This announcement makes Audi e-tron seem like the top safety pick when it comes to electric cars, but is it really?  Some feel like Tesla may have gotten snubbed when it comes to earning similar marks.

Audi e-tron Wins Award for Safety

The announcement from IIHS came today after the release of the Audi e-tron’s test results. 

“The e-tron, introduced for the 2019 model year, is a plug-in battery-electric vehicle with no gasoline or diesel engine to help power the car. The e-tron fulfills the criteria to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award with standard equipment. To qualify for the award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in six crashworthiness evaluations, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating,” they said about the electric SUV. 

The Audi e-tron is the first electric car to earn the maximum score across the board, beating out contenders such as the Tesla Model S or the Chevy Bolt.  Crash testing was scored in areas such as the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests. 

In particular, the IIHS was impressed that the e-tron’s “Pre Sense Front” automatic emergency braking system performed so well, avoiding a crash altogether in a 25 miles per hour test.  In the 12 miles per hour version of the test, the car slowed to 1 mile per hour before impact. 

The e-tron also obtained a 5-star safety rating in Europe under the Euro NCAP standard. 

Audi e-tron Release Delays

All of this is welcome press for the Audi e-tron, whose release has been fraught with issues from the start.  The initial unveiling of the car was delayed due to the involvement of Audi’s CEO in the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal.  Battery shortages and some software issues forced the actual release of the car to be put off.  Then a few hundred e-trons had to be recalled over a battery pack issue that posed a fire risk. 

Tesla Fails to Earn Top Marks

So why does Audi have an “unfair advantage” over Tesla in regards to this award?  Because Tesla’s closest competitor, the Model X, has not even been tested by the IIHS to provide a viable comparison.  While the IIHS is a private, non-profit organization, Tesla has said in the past that the “IIHS […] (has) methods and motivations that suit their own subjective purposes.”  Apparently, they feel that some industry bias may underly the agency’s below-stellar rating of the Tesla Model S and failure to test other Tesla models. 

The IIHS also has not tested the Model 3, even though it has been on the market for over two years.  Tesla managed to score a 5-star safety rating across every category recorded during its testing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and feels that their vehicle is one of the safest on the market today. 

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