Tesla Defends Safety Claims

Tesla Inc. insists its Model 3 electric car is the safest vehicle ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a statement challenged by the agency itself.

Bloomberg News reported yesterday that NHTSA had sent Tesla a cease-and-desist letter in October for making “misleading” statements about the agency’s five-star safety ratings.

The letter says Tesla ignores differences in vehicle weights that make comparisons impossible. The letter rejects as “inaccurate” the company’s claims that the Model 3 (pictured) has the “lowest probability of injury of all cars,” that Model 3 occupants are “less likely to get seriously hurt” or that they “have the best chance of avoiding a serious injury.”

The letter also notes that NHTSA had admonished Tesla for making similar misleading claims about its Model S sedan six years ago. Such claims give the carmaker an unfair market advantage, according to the agency, which last year referred the issue to the Federal Trade Commission.