Tesla Model 3 Loses Consumer Reports, IIHS Top Pick Status

Tesla has been busy at work behind the scenes, but it might not have been a good move this time. Tesla will deliver the newest versions of the Tesla Model 3 without certain safety features. Some potential buyers might find these features necessary, and with them missing, it could lead to an uptick in crashes.

Why did the Tesla Model 3 lose the Consumer Reports Top Pick status?

The Tesla Model 3 is no longer recommended by Consumer Reports
The Tesla Model 3 is no longer recommended by Consumer Reports | Ding Ting via Getty Images)

While Tesla has been busy changing things behind the scenes, companies have been quick to take notice. Tesla has decided to remove the camera-based system titled Tesla Vision. Tesla noted that starting in May 2021, the Model 3 and Model Y vehicles destined for the U.S. market will no longer be equipped with radar. Instead, Tesla says the vehicles will rely on “camera vision and neural net processing to deliver Autopilot, Full-Self Driving, and certain active safety features.”

Tesla went on to say that Autosteer will be limited to 75 miles per hour on the new electric vehicles. It will also require a longer minimum following distance. For Smart Summon and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance, both of these might be disabled upon delivery.

Additionally, Tesla may no longer include forward collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB). These features are standard in most cars these days. Consumer Reports notes that almost 75% of cars on the road are equipped with AEB and FCW. This includes most entry-level models.

Will these systems improve the overall safety and driving experience? It does cause safety concerns at this stage but has yet to be determined.

The IIHS agrees with Consumer Reports

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) might re-evaluate the Tesla Model 3 due to these changes. Currently, it is still a Top Safety Pick due to all of the upgraded features. David Friedman, VP of advocacy for Consumer Reports, commented on the issue. “If a driver thinks their vehicle has a safety feature and it doesn’t, that fundamentally changes the safety profile of the vehicle.” If a driver is confused about what features are or are not included, it could result in a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the 2021 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built after April 27, 2021, will no longer receive a checkmark for the removed features. Similarly, Consumer Reports will no longer list Tesla’s Model 3 as a Top Pick, and the IIHS plans to remove the Top Safety Pick+ award.

It is very odd for an automaker, even Tesla, to remove safety features instead of adding safety features. As noted before, it can confuse drivers who might rely on such features in a moment of need.

For CR, the Model 3’s overall score dropped from a 78 to a 75 overall. The Model 3 is still within range to be recommended by the company. The Model Y was not a recommended pick as it stood originally, but the score has now dropped from 50 to 47.

CR found the 2020 Model S unreliable

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Consumer Reports gave the 2020 Tesla Model S a reliability score of 26 out of 100. In certain areas, the Tesla electric vehicle did fine. For driving experience, the Model S scored 94. It scored a similar 91 for styling and a 74 for comfort. The value score was only 31.

CR found the range short compared to similar gas-powered cars. The charging times were long, and the process a bit arduous. For potential buyers, it was suggested to check the Supercharging network in your area. Some areas do not have the infrastructure needed to make driving a Tesla a viable option. Additionally, if you live in an area with extreme weather, this can impact the range.

In addition to all of these changes, Tesla has been slowly increasing the prices behind the scenes.

An update from Elon Musk

However, it seems there was some sort of misunderstanding between Tesla, Consumer Reports, and the IIHS. Electrek contacted Elon Musk directly to confirm the issue.

“Just confirmed with the Autopilot team that these features are active in all cars now, including vision-only. NHTSA automatically removes the check mark for any cars with new hardware until they retest, which is happening next week, but the functionality is actually there.”

Elon Musk | Electrek

The report went on to say that some owners took delivery of the Model 3 and Model Y over the weekend, and these features were active. The NHTSA and IIHS will likely be testing the new cars in the upcoming weeks, at which time we will know more. It does sound like the safety features are active at this point.