Due to the selective nature of reports in the media, as well as the focus on negative and bad news over positive reports, some people may be concerned about buying a Tesla. It will catch fire, it accelerates on its own when you least expect it, and its Autopilot system might cause a crash.
While all of these things "could" happen, they're arguably not likely to happen any more often in a Tesla or any electric car than they are in a petrol car. In fact, there's plenty of research that suggests EVs are less likely to catch fire, driver-assist systems save many more lives than they take, and sudden unintended acceleration is much more unlikely than driver error.
Over the years, we've seen news of Tesla fires. Now, as more electric cars come to market, we're getting reports of other automaker's EVs catching fire. This is a genuine concern since it's a new technology, people are skeptical, and car fires are dangerous. It may seem like there have been a whole lot of these fires, however, in the grand scheme of things there have been very few. If the media covered every petrol car fire we would have much better grounds for comparison. There were probably more global petrol car fires so far this week than there have been Tesla fires in the company's existence.
Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist system may seem to be extremely innovative to many people, but that's mostly due to its name. Sure, it has a whole hardware suite of cameras and radars, and it undergoes regular over-the-air software updates, so it's not quite the same as other cars' active safety systems. However, with that said, many of the features that Autopilot provides can also be found on many other cars (they're just not seen as "self-driving" vehicles by the masses).
Just like the fires, we've seen our fair share of Tesla crashes involving Autopilot. Sadly, a few have been fatal. However, features like those found in the Autopilot suite are meant to save lives. These features are saving lives in all sorts of cars every day. However, we aren't going to see a news report every time an advanced driver assistance system saves someone's life.
More recently, there have been plenty of claims of sudden unintended acceleration in Tesla's vehicles. Thus far, none have been proven. You may remember when Toyota was up against the same issue. A company that makes some of the safest vehicles in the world was under great scrutiny for unintended acceleration, though, in the end, nothing was fully substantiated, and Toyota settled. The company claimed it was driver error and later blamed faulty floor mats, but never admitted the cars themselves were actually accelerating on their own.
Back to Tesla and EVs. It seems there are plenty of people who are concerned about buying an EV due to the fire risk. A number of surveys have suggested that Tesla Autopilot is still seen as scary to many drivers. This all leads us to the question in the title: Are Tesla vehicles the most dangerous cars on the road?
According to official crash tests and car fire statistics, the answer is very much the opposite. In order to put all the information in one place and set the record straight, Electric Future produced the above video with all the numbers. It's not based on surveys or opinions or social media rants. Instead, it provides crash test results, information about safety systems, and the reality surrounding EV fires.
Below, we've included the channel's breakdown of the video by topic.
0:00 Tesla Safety
1:09 Tesla Fires
2:02 Passive and Active Safety
2:42 Tesla Model 3
5:53 Tesla Battery
6:44 Tesla Model X
7:52 Tesla Model S
8:23 Active Safety
9:40 Tesla Model Y
11:08 Full Self Driving