It was for a very good reason.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted that the Model Y crossover would become the carmaker's best-selling vehicle globally. That could very well happen, especially once additional production gets underway at Tesla's still under construction Gigafactories in Austin, Texas and Berlin, Germany. Until then, the Model Y's success continues with this latest piece of news from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The independent organization has just released new crash test results for the 2021-22 Model Y, specifically the driver-side small overlap, moderate overlap, and side crash tests. The crossover has earned the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation, the highest possible rating. This applies to models equipped with Tesla's camera-based Vision system that launched last spring. Both the VW ID.4 and Volvo XC40 Recharge, two main Model Y rivals, earned the same score.
The IIHS says the Model Y's standard front crash-prevention system earned superior ratings for the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. Model 3 sedans built beginning last April also have this feature and earned the same score as well, though a software update was required first. The IIHS's Top Safety Pick+ requirements are not easy to achieve. The vehicles must achieve good ratings in a total of six crashworthiness tests.
In addition to those listed above, there's also the roof strength, head restraint, and passenger-side small overlap front tests. Another key area that continues to prevent many vehicles from receiving this rating is the headlights. Oftentimes, the standard units found in base models are not strong enough.
The agency says good and powerful headlights should not cause any excessive glare. Nor should they temporarily blind drivers of oncoming vehicles. The Model 3 and Model Y comes standard with projector lamps. Previously, the headlights were fully LED. Tesla has faced scrutiny over the past several months regarding the safety of its driver-assist systems, Autopilot and the more advanced Full Self-Driving. Both are officially ranked at Level 2 on a five-point scale. Level 5 is full autonomy without the need for a human driver.
Thing is, that technology does not exist yet and the names Tesla gave to its systems are considered to be misleading. Fortunately, the Model Y should now be able to keep passengers extremely safe.