The Audi e-tron 2019 large SUV earned a Top Saftey Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Saftey, marking the first time a battery-electric vehicle made it on the list.
The e-tron, which Audi launched for the first time in 2019, is a plug-in battery-electric SUV that has nothing in the way of a backup fuel source. It competes against Tesla's Model X.
"The e-tron performed well in crashworthiness testing, earning good ratings in the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests," wrote the IIHS in a press release announcing the accolades for the e-tron. "The e-tron fulfills the criteria to earn a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award with standard equipment."
Tesla Model 3 Crash Tests Just Starting
In order to qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award, the vehicle has to earn high marks in six crash tests, earn an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and garner a good headlight rating. The IIHS said the e-tron's standard front crash prevention system rated superior in track tests, avoiding a collision in the 25-mph test. It was able to reduce its impact speed by about 11 mph in the 12-mph test, the IIHS said.
While the Audi e-tron is now the highest safety rated electric vehicle in the market, it may not be for long. While the IIHS began testing the Tesla Model 3 in 2018, it only just started crash tests. The IIHS did give the Model 3 a superior rating for front crash prevention in the earlier assessment.
Good news after rough start for e-tron
The Top Saftey Pick+ rating is a bit of good news for Audi, which had trouble bringing this electric SUV to the market. The carmaker had to delay the rollout because of shortages of batteries. Once it was available, a fire risk resulted in the recall of several hundred e-trons. In June Audi said a manufacturing issue enabled water to get inside the charging port, which could cause a battery fire.
Nevertheless, the SUV has been well received by consumers, with the company selling 856 in May, the first month it was available for purchase. It sells for $75,000 and as of July accounted for close to 5% of Audi's sales. It also closed in on Tesla in May, with the green vehicle maker selling 1,000 Model X vehicles. The e-tron is seen as the first real competitive threat to Tesla.