What is a good car for teens to drive today? If budget isn’t a major concern you have to consider the Tesla Model 3. The NTSB released their crash test results last week and just like the Models S and X the model 3 got 5 stars across the board.
There are a lot of reasons to consider Tesla’s but the most important for a parent is safety. There has never been vehicles pass the NTSB tests so well. They have even considered revamping the tests because these vehicles do so well in them. They even broke some of the testing equipment they pushed them so hard trying to get them to fail.
So what is the deal? Why does Tesla do so well in these crash tests? Simple, they are not built like a regular car. They have been designed from the ground up to protect the passengers. Traditional cars were designed like tanks at first with the main purpose to house the engine, transmission and fuel cell to make it work. Oh, yeah, and then build a passenger compartment.
Tesla’s have been designed with the century or more of engineering advantages we know about. The problem is that a company would need to start from the ground up to implement them. Well, that is what they did. They started from the ground up with the main feature being to protect the occupants.
So with no big engine and transmission in the vehicle that changes the dynamics of the crash a lot. This design feature has a huge impact in crashes. First, there is no 1,000 lb block of metal in the front end waiting to be shoved into the driver compartment in a head on collision. Since there is no internal combustion engine there is no need for a fuel cell and carrying around several gallons of liquid fuel (gasoline). So just the lack of gas getting thrown all over and igniting is one huge safety factor. The other is the physics of the weight of the car.
Not having an engine that sits way up on top of the frame of the car makes a huge difference. There needs to be clearance under that engine so it had to be moved pretty high up in the vehicle. This makes the vehicle more top heavy than it would be if that engine wasn’t there. The Tesla gets its power from the batteries stored in the floor. This puts the center of gravity pretty low on the vehicle. With the center of gravity so low this makes it nearly impossible to turn one of these vehicles over. So no rollover crashes.
So if there is no engine why is there an engine compartment up front? That is a crumple zone that they use as an up front trunk. So what used to be one of the more dangerous features of a vehicle has been turned into a safety feature.
Same with the backed. There is no gas tank in the car so that space can be use more intelligently in creating crumple zones in the back. This makes the passenger compartment very safe and protected. Just want a parent wants for their kids.
But beyond the physical attributes of the vehicle it has a lot more going for it than just that. The vehicles have been in the news for their self driving ability. Also called autonomous driving. This is a complex system of sonar and cameras that constantly scan the environment dozens of times a second to make sure the vehicle, and its occupants are safe.
One of the features that parents will appreciate is the crash avoidance system. In theory, there is a radar and camera system on the front of the vehicle that prevents you from running into things in front of the car. There are also side crash avoidance systems that alert the driver if they are drifting out of their lane or objects (other vehicles) are getting too close.
Finally, the last reason I would get my teenager a Model 3 is that this is the technology they are growing up with and will have in the future. Why teach someone to drive a manual shift car if they are never going to drive one? The future is here and we should be embracing it so that we can fully utilize it.
There is no way a human being can do all that computers do now. The computer systems in a Tesla are constantly surveying the environment for dangers. As drivers, we don’t do a tenth of this amount of due diligence when we are driving. We can only look in one place at a time. The Tesla is looking at like 10 at the same time and processing all that data. As a new driver inundated with all the information when we start driving it is overwhelming. Why not use computers to keep our loved ones safer?
What is more important to you? Saving money or keeping your kids safe?