Safety: Why I Bought My Wife a Model S

Safety: Why I Bought My Wife a Model S

In our house, my wife generally looks to me for all things tech.  When she needs a new car, I usually ask about her contemporary needs and then propose some qualified options.

In this case, we did it quite differently.  The reason why is an object lesson in one of many things team Tesla did very, very right.

I had aleady ordered a Model S for me. Although I love that it doesn't burn gas, I chose it because it offers the best combination of performance and ride quality on the market.  When I considered cars for her, I thought about it for all of 5 seconds. Then I promptly ordered a second model S just for her.  The reason?  Safety.

I thought about my wife and kids being swaddled in a state of the art cocoon, ingenuously designed by the world's most aggressive automotive engineers, to shield people better than any other car.  That instantly trumped everything else.

Safety engineers like to say that there are actually three collisions in an accident. The first is when your car hits the other.  The second is when your body hits the interior.  And the third is when your brain hits the inside of your skull.

Because there is no motor in front, and lots of smart structure, the Model S crumple zone is 3X longer than other cars.  Because of this, the striking reality is that even the biggest BMW 7 or Mercedes S would expose my family to 3X greater G forces in a head-on collision.  That's 3X greater trauma to all their internal organs.  When you can do something that so materially improves the survivability of your loved ones, you don't hem and haw.  You just do it.  

Funny thing, this is.  There are so many nuanced dimensions to deciding a capital purchase like a car.  Yet because of TM's groundbreaking work on EV-enabled safety, it reduced a complicated decision to a very simple one.  

For me, the compelling logic was that any other choice would expose my wife and kids to materially greater risk of death.

By accepting the challenge of being not merely as good, but in fact meaningfully better on every key metric, TM radically changed our thinking ... and doubled their revenue from my house.

While we were all so impatiently waiting, those engineers were not idle.  They actually got something seriously significant done.  

For my family, it could turn out to be life-changing.

If others will drive your S, does safety weigh in your choice?

Nicu.Mihalache | 15. Oktober 2012

The same in approximative English - hey Brian, can you spot Google's mistakes, typos and logic errors here?|en&tbb=1&ie=UTF-8

Brian H | 15. Oktober 2012

No thanks! The evolution of computer translation towards coherence has some way to go yet.

Brian H | 15. Oktober 2012

I particularly like this line: "No, you do not exist." (Nein, den gibt es nicht.)
German pronouns are still a mystery to Google Translate.

Volker.Berlin | 16. Oktober 2012
Volker.Berlin | 31. Oktober 2012

Here's a nice article about the interesting illogic of the 911's rear-engine layout. Unfortunately, it's only available in German (except for the headline ;-):

Kabeyun | 18. Dezember 2012

Just joined the forums and found this thread. A little stale but worth resurrecting. Considering a Model S and I live in New England, so I'm researching how well it would do in uphill wintry conditions. Hence the Google hit.

@ Mark K: nice comments and a laudible sentiment, but I'm not sure your physics are sound. I'm not a mechanical engineer, but I strongly doubt the energy dissipation of a crumple zone is linear with available hood length. That is, a functionally 3X longer crumple zone doesn't translate to 1/3 the energy your body experiences when it strikes the front of the interior. The materials and dynamics between you and the bumper are far more complicated than that. And that's assuming your wife never uses the frunk.

In deciding a car is "safest" we're of course not discussing crashes at other impact points (over 40% of accidents), things like seatbelt mounts and pretensioners, air bags, etc, as well as crash-avoidance variables like braking, handling, traction and stability control, suspension, wheels/tires, etc. Complicated stuff we probably won't know until vehicle-specific injury rates start returning in high enough numbers to be statistically valid (heaven forbid!). Fortunately, Tesla's safety mojo looks state-of-the-art and Ill bet the Model S stacks up among the best.

Human error alone is responsible for over half of all accidents, so let's all drive safely regardless of the motor!


Mark K | 19. August 2013

Based on today's announcement of the NHTSA test results, my wife is a very happy camper.

Our second Model S arrives soon, and my family is much safer now.

Thanks to Elon and team Tesla for all of the brilliant hard work that made this possible.