Dear "5.4 Star" Tesla, Tone Down Hyperbolic Hype, Love NHTSA

Encapsulating all that is wrong with the raise-your-stock-price-by-hyperbole-alone strategy of most new 'tech' firms, Tesla's recent claim of a "5.4 Stars - out of 5" safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) perhaps takes the biscuit. But as Jalopnik reports, the NHTSA is not standing for the lies anymore and has issues a statement explaining to car-makers that NHTSA does not award higher than a 5-star rating - advertisers should avoid "double" 5-star rating, numbers greater than 5, and using the terms "perfect," "safest," "flawless" or "best in class" are misleading. What will Elon Musk do now?

 

 

Via Jalopnik,

To be fair to Tesla, the Model S did score incredibly well in the safety tests, proving the inherent safety possible in a modern rear-engine design, incorporating as it does such a substantial frontal crumple zone to absorb collision energy. Tesla's justification for the extra 0.4 star (astronomically, I think that would be a white dwarf, right?) is explained in their press release:

NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.

which still means Tesla did their own thing with the ratings standard. If they had the data that gave them the number, you can't really blame them for trying, but safety rating standards are one of those things that are important enough to keep everyone playing with the same tools. So that means no more than 5...

 

and the NHTSA's response...(PDF here)

NHTSA does not award higher than a 5-star rating. Thus, advertisers should not use terms such as "double" 5-star rating when a vehicle has received a 5-star rating for both the driver and the right-front passenger seating positions. An advertisement should not claim that a vehicle earned a rating higher than 5-stars.

 

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Language referring to "doubling," "tripling" or "quadrupling" of a star rating is misleading...

 

Words such as "perfect," "safest," "flawless" or "best in class" to describe a particular star rating or the Overall Vehicle Score received by the vehicle are misleading...