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Tesla Model 3, Model Y lose IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus designation, report says

The EVs are losing Consumer Reports' Top Pick awards, and NHTSA is also changing its descriptions of Tesla's safety systems.

Tesla Model 3 IIHS crash test
Tesla's change to camera-based safety systems had consequences.
YouTube screencap

On Wednesday we reported that Tesla had officially dropped radar from its Model 3 and Model Y EVs, instead moving to the fully camera-based Tesla Vision setup for its driver-assist systems. That decision has had some big consequences, according to a new report from Consumer Reports published on Thursday. That report states that the Model 3 and Model Y are losing the company's Top Pick award, as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick Plus award.

According to the IIHS and Consumer Reports, the problem lies in the fact that due to the swap to the camera-based system, certain safety features such as automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning will be temporarily unavailable or limited at the time of delivery. (Tesla's own blog post about the change only mentions limits on lane-keeping assist, and that lane-departure warning and Tesla's summon features might not be available.) To make CR's Top Pick list, a car has to have collision warning and emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard; while this lowers the Model 3's scores it's still recommended, though the Model Y has a lower score.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also making changes because of Tesla Vision. Model 3 and Model Y EVs built after April 27, 2021, will no longer receive the agency's check mark for automated emergency braking, forward collision warning and lane-departure warning. According to Consumer Reports, this change was made after Tesla informed NHTSA about the camera system.

Tesla cars have previously made the IIHS' list of the safest cars on sale, though the agency has recently talked about automakers needing to be clearer about driver-assist systems. The Model 3 was recently on Consumer Reports' recommended vehicles list, though other models from the automaker have slipped off. Once NHTSA and the IIHS have opportunities to test the updated Teslas, these ratings and scores may change.

We would typically ask an automaker for comment on matters such as these, but Tesla no longer has a PR department.