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General Safety of 3 given size?

About the only thing I remember from high school physics (which I took before many of you reading this were born) is that when a VW bug (original version) hits a Cadillac head on, both doing 60 mph, the Cadillac slows down to 30 mph. Yes, that means the VW bug goes backward at 30 mph, a 90 mph sudden speed change, presumably assuring that all occupants of the VW go on to their eternal reward. (Safety is why VW stopped making that bug, originally conceived of by Germany during WWII; VW in German means the peoples car.) There is only so much you can do about weight the laws of physics, so I have always been hesitant about cars of the 3's size. BTW, the safety rating you see are for cars of the same class. It would make more sense to do them with the "other" car being of average size. The 3, at around 3800 lbs, weighs about 300 pounds more than a loaded Honda Accord. Anyone given thought to the big picture safety issues in a world full of large SUVs and pickups?
 

holmgang

Active Member
Sep 9, 2019
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*Some* of the safety test ratings are class/mass-specific. Others test against stationary objects and therefore independent of class.

Broadly speaking, this car tests very well. The packaging allowed by small electric drivetrain enable larger crumplezones.

In Europe, this car would be one of the heavier ones roaming the road. You have Yukons and Escalades to compete with, but unless you want to participate in tank warfare, I think this car should satisfy the safety factor
 

Knightshade

Well-Known Member
Jul 31, 2017
16,791
34,221
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(Safety is why VW stopped making that bug, originally conceived of by Germany during WWII; VW in German means the peoples car.)

Timing is slightly off there... the beetle was already in production when WW2 started (1934 was when the mandate to develop it came down- and they'd already produced a couple hundred in 1938 shortly before WW2 actually broke out and production went over to wartime stuff)

As to reasons for killing it- they ended sales in the US in the late 70s not really for safety reasons, but due to low sales... (said low sales were not helped by the safety ratings, but the low power especially when trying to meet 70s emissions regulations, and simply much newer and better cars including VWs own Golf, led to massive sales decline... They'd continue to sell the car in Europe (which often has higher safety standards than the US) until 1985, and in many other countries until 2003.

Anyway, despite NHTSA not liking Tesla pointing it out- the model 3 tested out to the lowest risk of injury of any car, of any size, they have ever tested.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: DopeGhoti
As Knightshade pointed out, the model 3 has the lowest risk of injury of any car, of any size, the NHTSA has ever tested. Nevertheless, physics has the last word. If you get into a head-on collision with a fully loaded 80,000 lb Semi truck, the semi will win that encounter regardless if you are in VW Beatle, Model 3, Model X, or Dodge Ram 3500 Dulley.

What I think you need to keep in mind is that the Model 3 active safety tech is VERY good at avoiding a collision to begin with. The model 3 is a extremely safe vehicle, but it still exists tin the physical works with all the rules of physics in play.
 
Just to add a little to the previous two posts, there are a couple of issues other than simply size and weight that work in the Model 3's favor.

The Model 3 has relatively large front and rear "crumple" zones which absorb significant amounts of energy in a crash. And, important to accident survivability, the Model 3 has one of the most rigid passenger compartments of any vehicle manufactured today.
 
Timing is slightly off there... the beetle was already in production when WW2 started (1934 was when the mandate to develop it came down- and they'd already produced a couple hundred in 1938 shortly before WW2 actually broke out and production went over to wartime stuff)

As to reasons for killing it- they ended sales in the US in the late 70s not really for safety reasons, but due to low sales... (said low sales were not helped by the safety ratings, but the low power especially when trying to meet 70s emissions regulations, and simply much newer and better cars including VWs own Golf, led to massive sales decline... They'd continue to sell the car in Europe (which often has higher safety standards than the US) until 1985, and in many other countries until 2003.

Anyway, despite NHTSA not liking Tesla pointing it out- the model 3 tested out to the lowest risk of injury of any car, of any size, they have ever tested.

Now that you mention it, I remember seeing a picture of Hitler standing next to an early bug. I read once that safety was key, but I can see how their might have been other issues. I think they also kept making the bug in Mexico, and in the 1980s, I took a bug taxi in Rio.
 
Escalade curb weight 5,578 lbs
Model 3 curb weight 4,072 lbs

That Escalade has a 25% weight advantage so that differential is going to have an effect. However, the Model 3 has excellent crumple zones so it will absorb a lot of that extra energy. I wouldn't want to want to be in either in a head-on. In a single car collision, I'd absolutely choose the Model 3 over any other vehicle out there.
 

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