A made-in-China Tesla Model 3 was, unfortunately, involved in a road crash in China. The fortunate thing is that the vehicle’s architecture protected the passengers as it was flipped over.
Eye witness at the scene of the incident commented that it was an “achievement” to flip the Tesla over onto its roof. The car’s batteries are in a skateboard shape under the car, which makes it very hard to flip over.
The Model 3 is one of the safest vehicles recently made, and despite having a glass roof, it’s very difficult to crush the roof.
The architecture of the Model 3 is something that is key to its high safety ratings. For example, the glass roof is something that would normally be seen as a weak link. After all, glass shatters when vehicles are involve in a crash, right? Not as much as you think in the case of Tesla. The metal panel that forms the roof of a legacy automaker’s vehicle is itself usually one of the weakest pieces on vehicles. When it rolls over in an accident scene, there is little protection for the passengers. Tesla’s glass roofs are made of a very strong glass and are also shaped in a way that makes them hard to crush, when involve in a crash.
The glass roofs have two layers of hardened glass that have been laminated with a thermoplastic. This makes them harder than any thin sheet of metal commonly used in vehicle roofs.
However, another factor that makes it incredibly hard for a Model 3 to roll over in an accident is the floor-mounted battery design. This adds extra weight at the bottom of the vehicle (around 1,000 pounds in a Model 3 Long Range). When you have all of this weight at the bottom of the vehicle, it’s challenging to flip or roll over the car — but we don’t recommend trying.
Furthermore, small detail in Tesla’s architecture lies in the battery cells. Note that in a recent fire outbreak, a Model S was almost completely destroyed, melted, but the battery pack remained undamaged! Tesla has noted that its safety system works to isolate a fire in an event of a fire outbreak to select areas within the battery while also venting the heat away from the passenger cabin from the vehicle if a battery cell is eventually on fire.
Tesla’s designs focuses on safety even into the smallest details, and this can be seen on a grand scale when an accident occurs. The Model 3 achieved the lowest overall probability of injury of any vehicle recently tested by the NHTSA’s US New Car Assessment Program.
The fortified structure of a skateboard battery pack in the vehicle’s floor is a key component in Tesla’s design that focuses on safety beyond preventing rollovers.
In 2018, side from finding that the Tesla Model 3 has the lowest chance of injury ever recorded in its crash tests, the NHTSA also found that the Model 3 had the lowest chance of crash of any care the NHTSA had ever tested. Read that again. Out of all the cars that the NHTSA has ever tested since its inception, the Model 3 has the lowest chance of injury.
The Model 3’s all-electric powertrain design, its rigid aluminum and steel passenger cabin, and the large crumple zone* that is in place where a fossil fuel engine would normally go all make the Model 3 a unique choice if safety is a priority for you.
Usually, when someone is in a major accident and they are able to literally walk away without a scratch, this is miraculous. When it comes to the safety of its customers and their passengers, Tesla has made miraculous a safety standard.