Tesla Model 3 scores ‘moderate’ technology safety rating as drivers ‘relinquish control’

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Tesla’s fully electric car was the lowest-scoring vehicle for driver engagement after concerns over its Autopilot system. The car scored a total rating safety score of 65 percent for the extra technology which saw it finish below cheaper models such as the VW Passat and Ford Kuga.

The Model 3 had the highest score for its vehicle assistance technology and safety back up before losing points on the driver engagement section of the test.

This determines the suitability across a range of factors including how effective the vehicle monitors the driver to ensure they are engaged behind the wheel.

The driver engagement test also looks at how easy it is for a driver to interact with the tools and whether the car communicates to the driver.

A look at whether the carmakers marketing material is accurate and reflective of the final product is also considered.

Experts warned this was because the model focused on the “vehicle doing the driving” rather than the person behind the wheel.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research says the technology “would be appropriate” for an automated vehicle but not one intended for a driver to have control.

He warned the vehicle encouraged the driver to “relinquish too much control” which could lead to safety issues.

Mr Avery said: “Many aspects of the Model 3 are exemplary; its vehicle assistance is the best we saw in testing and it also aced the safety back up element.

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“However, it achieves a ‘moderate’ rating for poor driver engagement, with a design philosophy that is very much about the vehicle doing the driving.

“That would be appropriate for an automated vehicle – but this is vehicle assistance.

“The big ‘self-driving’ sell in its marketing material, combined with the high performing assistance, encourages the driver to relinquish too much control.”

The results were the first assessments conducted by Thatcham and Euro NCAP into onboard driver-assist technology.

They warn there is significant potential for carmakers to overstate the capability of their current driver technology which could lead to drivers misusing the technology.

They warn that confusion around the systems has resulted in serious road collisions and even fatal accidents.

Mr Avery revealed the first tests had highlighted “significant gaps in capability” on a range of vehicles, including the Tesla Model 3.

He said: “The first batch of results show some car makers have developed robust assisted driving systems and that’s good to see.

But there are also significant gaps in capability on other vehicles.”

“For instance, the Tesla Model 3 was the best for vehicle assistance and safety back-up. But lost ground for over selling what its ‘Autopilot’ system is capable of, while actively discouraging drivers from engaging when behind the wheel.

“Tesla should however be recognised for its ability to update vehicles ‘Over the Air’.

“Two years ago, it’s safety back up results would not have been market-leading. This unique capability has seen it move the safety game on, across its whole fleet of vehicles.”

Tesla focuses heavily on its autopilot feature in its marketing campaigns for the Model 3, claiming the tools help drivers with the “most burdensome parts of driving”.

Express.co.uk have contacted Tesla for further comment. 

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