Tesla Model 3 Side Pole Impact Test Compared To Volvo S60 – Video

1 week ago by Eric Loveday 55

Concurrent with the big reveal last night, Tesla posted a crash test comparison video to Twitter to show just how safe the Model 3 likely is.

It’s just a brief clip and doesn’t show much, but the point Tesla is trying to get across is that the Model 3 apparently performs better in the side impact pole tests than the Volvo S60, one of the safest cars in the world.

As you’ll see in the video, the Model 3 doesn’t deform much, but it’s hard to judge if that lack of deformity translates to occupant safety.

Safety has always been high on Tesla’s list, so we assume the Model 3 will be no exception. We fully expect it to be among the safest cars in its class.

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55 responses to "Tesla Model 3 Side Pole Impact Test Compared To Volvo S60 – Video"

  1. bro1999 says:

    Volvo test was a 40 mph impact while the Model 3 test was 20 mph.
    Can you say “blatant deception”?

    1. Mark.ca says:

      Proof?

    2. Arpe says:

      How can you tell?

      There are no readings on speed for the Volvo like there is on the Tesla.

    3. Chester Koenig says:

      Where did you get that information from?

    4. WadeTyhon says:

      Are you sure? Do you have a link to the original Volvo video or something that mentions speed?

      1. WadeTyhon says:

        I believe this is the exact side pole crash video used in the above comparison. This above angle can be seen at about the 1:20s mark. From the description of the video updated in 2016:

        “A small-sized adult female crash test dummy is placed in the driver’s seat and is secured with a seat belt. The test vehicle, angled at 75 degrees, is then pulled sideways at 20 mph (32km/h) into a 25-cm diameter “

        1. csv says:

          Yes the Volvo S60 is an official euro NCAP test:
          https://www.euroncap.com/en/vehicle-safety/the-ratings-explained/adult-occupant-protection/side-pole/ and this is done at 32 km/h .
          Strangely the Tesla Model 3 test doesn’t seem like it’s am NCAP test : pole looks different and it seems to wiggle at impact plus there are no markings to indicate what test it is.

          The fair comparison would be if they would have the cars tested under the exact same conditions and show what values the impact had on the test dummy because a car that doesn’t deform on impact is not always safer than one that does and absorb some of the energy

    5. Jeff N says:

      The standard NHTSA pole test is 20 mph.

      Maybe you are confusing the NHTSA pole test with the NHTSA side barrier test which happens at 38.5 mph?

      I haven’t seen any evidence yet indicating to me that the Model 3 and Volvo pole tests were performed at different speeds.

    6. Get Real says:

      Are you mad bro?

      Because you are rapidly becoming a blatant anti-Tesla troll here on InsideEVs.

      1. AlphaEdge says:

        He’s pissed off. I’m not sure why.

        I guess Tesla did well then. 😀

        1. Get Real says:

          LOL, he’s going to be alot more pissed off in about 6 months when he is lonely driving around in his Bolt and keeps seeing new Model 3s everwhere!

          1. William says:

            That will feel like a 60 MPH pole crash test, when those Tesla Model 3s driving around kick in the Chevy Bolt “buyers/Leasers remorse”.

            1. SparkEV says:

              For current Bolt leasers, there’s no remorse. It will take few years for Tesla 3 shake out the bugs and produced in enough numbers to be able to get it in couple of months. In fact, Bolt leasers are in very good position now.

              But SparkEV leasers are in a pickle; what to do between end of lease and when Tesla 3 become mostly bug-free…

            2. WadeTyhon says:

              Why would a Bolt leaser/buyer feel buyers remorse? I love my Bolt. Literally the best car I’ve ever owned. 😀 I start every day with between 260-270 miles of range.

              We want to get a Model 3 to replace our Volt. Although pricing will be an issue, hopefully smaller option packages will be available next year. (Especially since the tax rebates will have begun to diminish.)

              But here’s a shocker… It’s possible *gasp* for both cars to be great. O.O

              It turns out that well-built EVs from GM and Tesla are both better than gassers. I know, crazy but true!

              1. Vexar says:

                Makes sense to me. They are different car types. I would love to see a cargo comparison between the two. Like boxes and stuff.

                1. WadeTyhon says:

                  Yep, if we are like most people… then anyone interested in a Model 3 would be more likely to cross shop with the Volt not the Bolt.

                  If I had to guess… For transporting boxes, the Bolt will be far better. But for long thin items, a model 3 will probably be more capable because of the vehicles length (with the rear seats folded down of course!)

            3. unlucky says:

              Why would I feel remorse?

              I think you’re projecting.

              The Bolt seemed like the right choice to me. I figured it would be cheaper, more developed (i.e. with better quality up front) and since I didn’t get in line for a Model 3 first day I was going to get the Bolt a lot sooner.

              I made the right choice. No remorse. If I want a Model 3 later I’ll get it. Right now I have the car I decided upon and paid for. What’s to regret?

              1. AlphaEdge says:

                > The Bolt seemed like the right choice to me.

                Ok, that explains alot. I was wondering why you were being such a sour puss since the intro the other night.

                Personally I think the Bolt is a great car, and nothing to be insecure over.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “He’s pissed off. I’m not sure why.”

          All the Tesla bashers are very, very upset, twisting in the wind and getting their shorts in a bunch, because Tesla succeeded in putting the Model 3 into production on time, contrary to what they had promised everyone.

          Did you see all the Tesla bashers who crawled out from under rocks to post in the 425 comment InsideEVs discussion about the Tesla Model 3 “Reveal” event? Yeah, it was a very, very bad day for the Tesla bashers. Probably the worst ever!

          Ah, schadenfreude…

          😀 😀 😀

    7. Nix says:

      Why do Bolt fanboi’s like yourself insist on making fools of yourselves.

      As you can see in the video, this is test is:

      CV1516.0005
      2106 Volvo S60
      NHTSA No O20165900 (this number is also on the dash)
      75° Oblique Rigid Pole SNCAP
      11/23/2015

      Here is the full footage, where you can get clear vision of the full label from many angles:

      How could we ever find out what speed they run the 75° Oblique Rigid Pole test? Who could ever know? Oh, wait, that’ all publicly available and easy to find in 5 seconds right on NHTSA’s “safercar” website:

      “The vehicle’s impact speed shall be 32.20 km/h ± 0.80 km/h.” (that’s 20 mph for the metric-impared)

      https://www.safercar.gov/staticfiles/safercar/NCAP/Side-Pole_TP_NCAP.pdf

      Do you seriously believe that Volvo destroyed a car by doing a test at DOUBLE the test specifications?

      Did you seriously believe you could just make up utter bullpucky and not get caught making a complete and utter fool of yourself?

      Is the steering wheel on your Bolt made of lead, and you’ve been sucking on it giving you brain damage?

      (

      1. WadeTyhon says:

        LOL I just sent the exact same link right above this one, also from 3:59.

        I figured Tesla would not be stupid enough to do something that was so easy to just, you know, google search.

        “Why do Bolt fanboi’s like yourself insist on making fools of yourselves.”

        I think Bro was tricked by some troll on Teslamotorsclub who made this claim. It came up while I was looking for this crash test video. He just didn’t bother to research further.

        1. Nix says:

          *laugh* That’s the crazy part, it is so easy to find that we both found it right away. Only the willfully gullible would parrot some other troll’s nutter BS without taking just few seconds to fact check it.

          Sadly, bro1999 will find a way to make his blunder Tesla’s fault, instead of coming back and simply saying: “I completely apologize, I was 100% wrong. I mindlessly regurgitated some BS I heard somewhere on the internet without any attempt to confirm it. My bad”.

    8. Tosho says:

      Ignore the troll!

    9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      bro1999 said:

      “Can you say ‘blatant deception’?”

      Yeah, I can. Anyone with a strong stomach can see dozens of your kind of Tesla-hater FUD posted over on Seeking Alpha every day. Perhaps that’s where you copied your post from?

      “Blatant deception” is a good description of the B.S. you post.

    10. Yeslyn says:

      Notice both poles in the safety video comparison. In the Tesla video you can see the pole moving ever so slightly side to side. That takes away at the impact energy. Notice the pole in the Volvo safety video. The pole does not move once. Just saying…

    11. Silo says:

      The test is at the same speed but not the same test at all. The Volvo goes against a vertical poll bolted to ground on a pulley system. The model 3 poll goes against a floating poll at a angle riding a sled that goes under the poll and the car isn’t even secured to the sled. Not the same test at all. Very misleading and honestly ethically dubious.

    12. Hein says:

      Other news sources confirmed. Both tests were conducted at the same speeds. Stop spread lies.

  2. Tom says:

    Has anyone found full crash test videos yet?

    1. Nix says:

      goto google video search, put in volvo s60 side pole crash and it should show up in the top results.

      No such luck on finding the full Tesla crash footage. Only the 9 second comparison is available so far that I can find.

  3. unlucky says:

    If you watch, you see the Tesla skitters across the pavement away from the pole while the Volvo absorbs the impact.

    It doesn’t seem like the roof structure is doing this, it appears (to me) that when the pole impacts the battery pack at the bottom of the car the pack doesn’t yield and so the car is pushed along by the pole (please excuse my switching frames of reference there).

    So the pack is taking the hit and “bouncing the car off” the pole.

    This means less deformation.

    As to whether this is a good thing I don’t know. I am not qualified to know whether more intrusion or the vehicle reversing direction more quickly is considered more dangerous. Both are risks but I can’t evaluate the relative measure of them.

    I would suggest that Tesla has little choice in this, they have to protect that pack more than Volvo has to protect its floor pan structure. If Volvo wanted the car to bounce off the pole they likely would strengthen it so that it would.

    I await the call of the various rating agencies on this. I would expect both do well.

    1. Nix says:

      At 20 MPH with side impact air bags, I would suspect that less intrusion is better. Since every single car maker has been adding more rigidity to the sides of their vehicles to reduce intrusion.

      But you are correct, the forces measured by the crash test dummy will be the ultimate truth.

      Keep in mind that Tesla already KNOWS the results, and knows they will become public soon enough.

      1. unlucky says:

        Automakers have added rigidity to doors to reduce intrusion. But they have also moved seats further away from doors. Anyone who tried to use an armrest in the 80s and now noticed how much further away the armrest is than it used to be.

        They also added side (door frame) airbags.

        All this to make it so minor intrusions aren’t bad. Of course an airbag does nothing for a major intrusion.

        1. unlucky says:

          I took a bunch of stuff out of that before I posted it because what I was going to post seemed unnecessarily argumentative. But now I find after I read what I did post that it’s completely unclear what I’m trying to say.

          So I’ll just say this straight out, despite how my above post reads I don’t disagree with what you posted. I think you made some good points and I tried to add to that and just made a mess.

    2. john doe says:

      I remember at the university, we calculated how the impact would affect a person with no side deformation, and with more. We also had data from Volvos SIPS (side impact protection system).

      You need some deformation to slow the impact force down, working together with side airbags and side curtains. The longer time it can slow the crash force down, the safer it is – all within reason. The way the Volvo looks to be designed in the video, seems to focus on a wider impact surface – like the front of a car. Most side crashes are intersection crashes, and not in trees/ poles from the side.

      I do feel it’s deforming a bit too much though.

      But the forces can be meassured on the test dummy, so we know for sure.

      An EV with a lithium battery, with a liquid flamable electrolyte has to be protected well. Or else a crash like this could result in a fire. It looks like Tesla does a good job protecting the battery. Hope the impact on the driver is low as well.

  4. Spyderman says:

    There’s something fishy about the pole in the Tesla video. It seems to me that it is leaning away from the car (down in the video).

    This means that the lower part of the car takes the impact and the part of the car the we can see in the video looks comperatively unharmed.

    The pole is also shaking sideways in the end, indicating a less firm mounting than in the Volvo case.

    This is odd.

    1. William says:

      Fishy sideways crash test pole? It is possible that the Tesla fishing pole had the drag set much too light, and Tesla got away with one.

    2. jelloslug says:

      It’s the position of the camera

      1. Spyderman says:

        I don’t agree, if it was the position of the camera making it look like the pole was leaning it would look completely different. The camera would be further in over the car when the impact happens, we wouldn’t see the crash so clearly since the roof would obscure the view. It would be a pretty lousy view from the camera.

        Also, it makes no sense to position the camera differently compared to the test they want to compare to as it would make comparisons difficult. I’m pretty sure that the pole is leaning, making this a bogus test. Not good.

    3. Mark.ca says:

      “The pole is also shaking sideways in the end, indicating a less firm mounting than in the Volvo case.”

      ….or it could be that the pole hit someting solid (like the battery platform) that could not adsord the pole energy as well as the Volvo side did and bounced.

  5. Ben says:

    – Tesla chose the worst looking perspective
    – Tesla chose to compare the Model3 with an ICE, everybody knows EVs with the massive structure of the battery are always stiffer regarding side impacts, but are highly likely to burn immediately after side impacts at higher speeds
    – Intrusion can actually be good, because it reduces peak accelerations, as long as it does not harm the passengers by crushing oder hitting them. Regarding sensor measurements the Volvo might have had a lot lower accelerations on the passengers of the car, which leads to less injuries as long as the energy of the side impact stays as low as in this scenario
    – we do not know the specifications of the cars, more weight (bigger engine/battery, premium packages) will always influence this test a lot by raising the energy and a ceiling with additional glas/windows will always perform worse in this test

    1. Mark.ca says:

      For a second there I thought i was going to die laughing…good stuff man! Your post is a joke, right?

      1. Ben says:

        Please tell me why? You did not use one argument at all. Im just telling you, that watching a video does not tell you, which car performs better. Two things hurt and kill. Intrusion and acceleration. Musk is forgetting half of the equation and uses one video of many crash scenarios to misinform people and make people believe, his car would perform much better than everything else. There is a reason why Volvo got 5 stars as well. And as i said for EVs crashes beyond standard scenarios are crucial. Do a side impact with 30mph on another position and the battery might burn immediately or the acceleration curves might be to high as the pole hits the housing of the battery. Might. And this is what tests are all about. This is one scenario from millions and Tesla prepared its car well for that. From what we know the Model 3 is a really safe car. But stop comparing it with other 5 star cars and stop laughing about Volvos 5star rating. Engineers would not do that as they know the limits of crash tests, only sales people like Musk. There is a reason why it tot 5 stars and not 4.95 for the Tesla and 4.9 for the Volvo, as crash testing only leads to some sort of orientation. Implying these 5 stars are better than other 5 stars is just wrong.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Well, obviously Tesla chose a comparison which would make their product look better. That’s what one does in advertising.

      But every adult should already know that. So other than stating the obvious, I don’t see that you have a point, altho you certainly did greatly inconvenience a large number of electrons to make it!

      Were you expecting Tesla to choose to show a video which would make the Model 3 look bad? O_o

      1. arne-nl says:

        Repeat repeat repeat, and still they don’t get it.

        I admire your patience and persistence.

        For some weird reason, every company except Tesla is allowed to advertise their product and emphasize its strengths.

    3. Nix says:

      Ben, There is indeed a balance between crumple zones and stiffness to reduce intrusion. You don’t want too much of either. So that’s why NHTSA did tests, and created some general guidelines for car makers. Here was their conclusion:

      “On the 75degree oblique side pole test … it is necessary to optimize B-pillar rockers, side sill stiffness and underbody frame to reduce dummy injury value from the collusion energy of moving barrier.”

      “….optimization of vehicle structure is required to increase the stiffness of rear door side impact beam as well as C-pillar. ”

      “…the lower panel is required to increase the stiffness and structure of B-pillar lower panel”

      NHTSA’s test dummies came up with the results that cars and SUV’s needed MORE STIFFNESS to reduce injuries in the 2015 revised 75 degree oblique side pole test. While we have to wait for the actual test results to truly know, NHTSA has advised car makers to make their cars score better

      Tesla knows the results and is bragging about the test, so all sign to these results begin BETTER than more intrusion into the passenger compartment.

      _______________________________

      Do you have an actual source contradicting the 2015 NHTSA test result recommending increasing stiffness?

  6. V2 says:

    A side crash with a tree where the Model 3 battery compartment can be used to reduce deformation is not the same as crashing against a barrier which is striking the side of the car higher than where the battery pack is. In an SUV vs car side crash the battery will offer little protection and the intrusion into the passanger compartment will be much greater. Further, as mentioned above, it is hard to pick getting a limb crashed or sustaining internal organ failure. Bounceing off the barrier means much more energy absorbed by the soft tissues in the body?

    1. unlucky says:

      You’re right. And you probably already know this but NHTSA has a separate test for side impact from a vehicle. They ram a weighted cart into the side of the car to simulate a car hitting it.

  7. MINIR58 says:

    By crumpling, the car is less likely to rebound upon impact, thus minimizing the momentum change and the impulse. Less impact to the occupants = safer car. Volvo knows what they are doing.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      So, you’re claiming it is “better” to allow a solid object to smash into the side of the car and crush the car inward a full third of the way across to the other side before the car rebounds.

      Got it.

      I think it’s safe to say that anyone sitting on the left side of that car would not have agreed with you… that is, if they survived that crash!

      1. MINIR58 says:

        Stiffness or crumple zones are great factors, don’t forget air bag and interior material padding are key factors too. Have you known anyone who was involved in car accident while driving a Volvo? Or a TESLA? I had, they walked away from their Volvo with minor bruises. So, my confident came from the testimony of real life occupants.

    2. Birger says:

      Technology moves forward. That Volvo did something very good a couple of years ago is probably correct.

      That does not change that many will do better later on.

    3. Nix says:

      There is indeed a balance between crumple zones and stiffness to reduce intrusion. You don’t want too much of either. So that’s why NHTSA did tests, and created some general guidelines for car makers. Here was their conclusion:

      “On the 75degree oblique side pole test … it is necessary to optimize B-pillar rockers, side sill stiffness and underbody frame to reduce dummy injury value from the collusion energy of moving barrier.”

      “….optimization of vehicle structure is required to increase the stiffness of rear door side impact beam as well as C-pillar. ”

      “…the lower panel is required to increase the stiffness and structure of B-pillar lower panel”

      NHTSA’s test dummies came up with the results that cars and SUV’s needed MORE STIFFNESS to reduce injuries in the 2015 revised 75 degree oblique side pole test. While we have to wait for the actual test results to truly know, NHTSA has advised car makers to make their cars score better

      Tesla knows the results and is bragging about the test, so all sign to these results begin BETTER than more intrusion into the passenger compartment.

      _______________________________

      Do you have an actual source contradicting the 2015 NHTSA test result recommending increasing stiffness?

  8. mr says:

    let`s wait and see front and rear end collision test .
    then we can compere

    1. Yoggi says:

      +1
      And let EuroNcap do their test!!!

  9. ModernMarvelFan says:

    But what will IIHS small overlap test say?

    Pole test is NHTSA test.

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