Tesla just added a new page to its website, and it focuses on vehicle safety for all of the company’s vehicles. This definitely makes sense in normal times, but in a time when The Church of Automotive Safety, mainstream media, and some government agencies are raising safety concerns, it makes even more sense for the company to get this information out there.
The Safety Page
The page is laid out like most of the vehicle advertising pages on the website. It starts out with an eye-catching video, but this time it shows Tesla’s workers performing safety testing. From 3D scanning with a laser device to crashing the vehicle into a barricade, they want us to know that Tesla spends a lot of time and money on making sure the vehicles are safe.
Below that, there’s an opportunity to see Tesla’s full safety report, next to images of Tesla vehicles being prepared for crash testing. “Tesla vehicles are engineered to be the safest in the world. Each one combines powerful onboard technology with an all-electric design to help protect every driver, passenger and pedestrian on the road,” the page says.
The next section introduces the vehicle design efforts that go into making the vehicles crash safe. They point out that the battery pack keeps the vehicle’s center of gravity low, potentially reducing rollover accidents. They also show imagery of impact protection, structural integrity, and crumple zones.
In the next two sections, they introduce the vehicle’s computer hardware and software that enables active safety features. They talk about the array of cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and how these give the computer awareness of the environment surrounding the vehicle. They then discuss how the software enables features like automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, blind spot warning, and lane departure avoidance.
They then explain that the safety features are designed to improve after the sale. Over-the-air software updates allow the company to improve the features the vehicle already has as well as introduce more safety features in the future.
Next, they mention that the battery pack is designed to provide thermal protection to occupants in the worst collisions that damage the battery pack (and set it on fire) and go through the safety ratings and awards their vehicles have achieved.
Finally, they again invite readers to read the company’s safety report for more detailed information.
The Safety Report
The safety report itself goes into a lot more detail about the things introduced on the flashier Safety page, or directs readers to other pages with greater detail.
The other things on the safety report is year-by-year information about accidents and fires. For example, the company’s data from the fourth quarter of 2020 reveals:
“In the 4th quarter, we registered one accident for every 3.45 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 2.05 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.27 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 484,000 miles.”
Putting This In More Context
The Church of Automotive Safety is all over Tesla right now. Safety advocates on the payroll of Tesla’s competitors, mainstream media, and some government officials have started making a big fuss about Tesla vehicles in the last couple of weeks.
In one recent teapot tempest, the IIHS slammed Advanced Driver Assistance Features (ADAS) for supposedly causing a 10% greater risk of fatal crash, but relied on faulty assumptions to do so. You can see the full details here, but in sum, they assumed that speed limits were a good standard by which to judge safety, despite the fact that speed limits are often set by politics and Helen Lovejoy instead of based on scientific principles.
In another article, I challenge the NTSB’s assertion that Tesla’s FSD Beta and Autopilot are “potentially dangerous.” They’re calling for stricter regulation without providing any real proof of a problem. The most damning thing is that the FSD Beta has been going for months and there have been no accidents.
It makes sense for Tesla to work harder to get their side of things out there so that potential buyers can see something other than what The Church is trying to smear the company with. Tesla has had to deal with an unusual flow of FUD for over a decade, and is used to this, but many know that things have to be dealt with.
Why All The FUD Lately?
At this point, I’m going to probably sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I’m not paranoid. The establishment really is out to get Tesla.
At the political level, I think the issue is that Tesla makes the government look bad. Government officials want us to think they’re going to solve the world’s major problems, like climate change. Despite their best efforts, the status quo kept prevailing. Then, some upstart that wasn’t elected comes along and actually gets people to want electric vehicles. Not only that, but Elon Musk doesn’t agree with them on everything, sometimes loudly disagreeing with them on things like coronavirus policy.
Politicians are often full of themselves, regardless of what party they’re in. Political office attracts that kind of personality. Someone like Elon Musk enrages people with that personality type, especially when he doesn’t toe the line. Partisan hacks, running on tribal instinct, follow along and want to punish Elon for his independent streak. You see media and activists on all sides parroting the talking points for that reason. Republicans attack him because they like the oil industry, and Democrats attack him because he’s actually getting stuff done that they would rather be taking credit for.
At the industry level, many safety organizations are funded by Tesla’s competitors. It should be no surprise that they carry water for the people writing the checks and feel free to attack those not paying the bills, or feel encouraged to do so.
Am I carrying water for Elon Musk? Definitely, but I don’t own any Tesla stock and I don’t ever get a dime from them. I don’t even own a Tesla. I do this because I don’t think it’s fair for the smear campaign to continue without someone trying to counter it. I hope our readers will step up and help, too.
One thing we can do is share the safety page on social media.