Despite having the best technology, Tesla’s Autopilot received a low overall grade in a new study looking at the effectiveness of driver-assist systems.
The European New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) in collaboration with Thatcham Research developed what they call the first consumer ratings focused solely on driver assistance systems.
Ten vehicles took part in the study, including the Tesla Model 3, all of which were graded on three criteria – Vehicle Assistance, Driver Engagement, and Safety Backup.
Of the 10 vehicles tested, the Model 3 achieved the highest score in Vehicle Assistance with 87 points out of 100, beating out the Mercedes GLE at 86 points. The Tesla also had the highest score for Safety Backup with 95 point. The Mercedes GLE also came in second with 89 points.
Despite the high scores, the Model 3 was severely penalized in the Driver Engagement category, receiving the lowest score of any vehicle with just 36 points. The Renault Clio had the next lowest score of 69 points.
One of the main reasons for such a low score in the driver engagement category was cited as the misleading Autopilot name.
“When it comes to the first test criterion – consumer information – the Tesla Model 3 in particular fails. The assistance systems are referred to as “Autopilot” in the operating instructions for the Model 3 as well as in the sales brochures and in marketing. However, the term suggests capabilities that the system does not have in sufficient measure. It tempts the driver to rely on the capabilities of the system – which is currently not allowed by the legislature anyway.”
The low score was also attributed to the vehicle’s poor steering override functions, which they say provides too much force to take over and should trust the driver more than the computer.
“Should the driver make a steering movement in order to avoid an object or a pothole in the roadway, the steering assistant should allow this without resistance. In the Tesla Model 3, for example, this is not the case. Apparently, Tesla trusts the system more than its driver. The necessary cooperative assistance is not given. Instead, the Tesla system prevents its driver from attempting to intervene – it mustn’t be.”
Take away the subjective part of the scoring where the researchers felt the Autopilot name was misleading and confusing, and the Model 3 likely would have ranked at the top of the list.
You can see the full results here, or watch the video summary below.