Tesla supporters frequently point to Euro New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP)’s tests of Tesla vehicles to claim that Tesla vehicles are far safer than other manufacturers, and that Tesla’s active safety systems protect those around them.

Elon Musk himself has relied on Euro NCAP’s testing videos, who gave the 2022 Tesla Model Y a five star rating in their tests, to claim that Tesla are word-leading in pedestrian safety:

More recently, Tesla’s Rohan Patel used Euro NCAP’s testing to support his claim that Tesla vehicles have “best-in-class performance” for safety:

However, the frequent use of Euro NCAP’s tests to support this narrative in fact supports a very different conclusion to that which Tesla supporters promulgate online: that Tesla’s driver assistance features are not as safe as Tesla claims.

 

The video circulated online of the European agency’s tests in fact relates to the testing of a 2022 Tesla Model Y, which assessed the vehicle’s standard safety features rather than Tesla’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, such as Autopilot or Full Self-Driving. Euro NCAP considered Tesla’s standard safety features to be impressive and consequently gave the Model Y a five-star review.

However, the same agency also tests manufacturers’ driver assistance systems, and drew a very different conclusion about the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot system. Euro NCAP’s Assisted Driver Gradings in 2020 placed Tesla’s Autopilot system sixth out of a possible ten manufacturers, scoring much lower than Tesla’s standard Model Y.

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Euro NCAP has not tested Tesla’s Autopilot system since 2020, perhaps due to the poor performance of Tesla in the 2020 rankings. 

 

Euro NCAP’s testing of Tesla’s Autopilot software found that it performed particularly poorly on Driver Monitoring, with a score of 10 out of a possible 25 points, and Driver Collaboration, with a score of 0 out of 25, reflecting the fact that Tesla’s self-driving software does not function as a driver assistance system, and disengages when the driver performs any active driving task, such as steering or braking.

 

The report produced by Euro NCAP also noted that “Tesla’s system name Autopilot is inappropriate as it suggests full automation.”

 

Euro NCAP gave Tesla Autopilot an overall score of ‘Moderate’, the second lowest score possible. Only Renault and Peguot received the ‘Entry’ ranking, the only lower classification.

 

Tesla ranked behind the ‘Assisted Driving’ systems of Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, and Nissan.

 

Tesla’s poor performance compared with Audi’s Adaptive Cruise Assist is made clear by the agency’s overall assessment of both systems:

 

Category (out of) Audi Q8 Tesla Model 3
Consumer Information (25) 20 10
System Status (25) 25 16.5
Driver Monitoring (25) 10 10
Driving Collaboration (25) 23 0*
Speed Assistance (25) 24.9 16.7
Adaptive Cruise Control Performance (40) 29.1 40
Steering Assistance (35) 30 35
System Failure (25) 25 25
Unresponsive Driver Intervention (25) 20 20
Collision Avoidance (50) 39.3 50

 

The overwhelming conclusion that emerges makes uncomfortable viewing for those who wish to leverage Euro NCAP’s testing in Tesla’s favour. In juxtaposition to the prevailing view among Tesla supporters, Euro NCAP’s testing shows that when Tesla’s ADAS software is activated, the overall safety of the vehicle is impaired and comparatively less safe to Tesla vehicles without these features. 

 

It is surprising therefore to see Tesla’s reliance on Euro NCAP’s tests online when they in fact support a very different conclusion: that Tesla’s self-driving software is not as safe as Elon Musk and Tesla claim. 

 

In the context of NHTSA’s recent recall of over 2 million Teslas, we should be particularly concerned about the agency’s criticism of Tesla’s driver monitoring system and call upon Euro NCAP to conduct further tests of Tesla’s self-driving software. 

 

The public deserves transparency when it comes to the safety of Tesla’s self-driving software and The Dawn Project supports Euro NCAP’s independent tests of Tesla’s self-driving vehicles. They present a clear picture that Tesla’s self-driving software has critical limitations and are not as safe as other manufacturers, contrary to Elon Musk’s endless claims.