Did Tesla cheat in crash tests?

Tesla-branded vehicles serve as safety benchmarks in crash tests. A few days ago, the European EuroNCAP also evaluated the new Model Y SUV in its latest vintage. And the American has just obtained the best result ever recorded by the safety body, ahead of all the cars from European manufacturers. In Australia too, the Model Y works miracles: there, the SUV is now the safest vehicle ever tested by ANCAP, the local body testing the safety of new cars. In this context, the discovery of a computer specialist, who had fun digging into the software code of Tesla models, is intriguing.

According to the “hacker” GreenTheory, Tesla’s on-board software has indeed lines of code marked “ANCAP”, “I VISTA” (from the name of the Chinese crash-test organization) or even “EuroNCAP”. These lines of code suggest that Tesla vehicles include elements related to these crash test procedures. Potentially for the purpose of improving the reactions of vehicles when tested by safety agencies? That’s the whole point. Alerted to this specific point, the ANCAP asked Tesla for details on the existence of these special codes.

“Special crash-test” Teslas

The hacker GreenTheory also claims that Tesla sends these organizations copies specially designed to be destroyed in crash tests, with the name of the organizations concerned in that of the cars. From there to imagining that Tesla sends models different from those it sells to its customers, with the specific aim of improving their efficiency in crash tests, there is a step that we obviously will not dare to take without proof: it is quite common for manufacturers to send specially marked vehicles to this type of event. But this does not mean that these copies have been modified to improve the results of the crash test. So far, no one is accusing Tesla of cheating or fraudulent practices. And it is quite possible that these special codes are simply means of adapting the vehicles sold by Tesla to local safety standards (different from one region to another of the globe), as the hacker rightly mentions in his assumptions. But it will be interesting to know the explanations of the American manufacturer about these amazing details. When contacted about this, EuroNCAP told us that “The organization’s team is currently in contact with Tesla and has already had several meetings with that of the manufacturer.” EuroNCAP must keep us informed of their responses.

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