By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Tesla’s decision to remove radar sensors from two of its U.S. vehicles has cost it top safety ratings from a widely followed insurance industry group and the influential Consumer Reports magazine.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Wednesday Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built after April 27 will no longer be labeled as having some advanced safety features after the automaker said it was removing radar sensors to transition to a camera-based Autopilot system.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also plans to remove the Model 3’s Top Safety Pick+ designation for vehicles built after April 27, a spokesman confirmed, adding it plans to evaluate Tesla’s new system.
NHTSA said it updated its website to show that Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles produced on or after April 27 “do not have NHTSA’s check mark for recommended safety technologies: forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support.”
Consumer Reports cited NHTSA’s decision in no longer listing the Model 3 as a Top Pick.
“It is extremely rare for an automaker to remove safety features from a vehicle during a production run, even temporarily, but this isn’t the first time that Tesla has done this,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center.
The NHTSA’s five-star crash ratings website includes check marks for up to four recommended advanced safety technologies.
Automakers may use safety check marks to promote certain features to potential buyers, and consumers may use them to rate vehicles.
Both Tesla models have received five stars for crash and rollover safety, and that is unaffected.
Tesla did not comment Thursday.
Tesla said the transition to a camera-focused system may result in the limitation of some features such as lane-centering and parking assistance, but that software updates “in the weeks ahead” would restore these functions.
NHTSA has opened 28 special investigations into Tesla crashes, with 24 pending, including a fatal crash on May 5 in California.
(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Chris Reese and Karishma Singh)