Even though Tesla CEO Elon Musk already announced that the company aims for the Model 3 to score 5 stars in every safety category, Morgan Stanley’s Tesla analyst Adam Jonas says that the vehicle’s safety could be an underrated feature that will give the vehicle a competitive edge.
Jonas sent a new note to clients today and referred to the Model 3’s safety features as an ‘ah-hah!’ moment when the car will launch later this year.
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He reiterated his ‘Overweight’ rating and $305 price target on Tesla’s stock.
Some consumer surveys have suggested in the past that safety often ranks as the top feature considered by car buyers. Taking that into account, Jonas says that the Model 3, which he expects to be “an order of magnitude (i.e. 10x) safer than the average car”, could surprise:
“We think the Model 3 will feature hardware and software that provide a level of active safety that could significantly lead all other cars on sale today and could, if the company achieves its goal, be an order of magnitude (i.e. 10x) safer than the average car on the road. According to nearly every OEM we talk to, safety is the number 1 determinant of car purchases. Look for safety to be the “ah-hah!” moment for this car due to launch this year.”
While the star rating system used by NHTSA is about crash tests and Tesla recently announced that they already performed some encouraging crash tests with the Model 3, Jonas is mainly referring to active safety features enabled through Tesla’s suite of autonomous driving and safety features, like collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking.
He wrote in the note:
“Learnings from Model 3 will enhance capabilities across the range including the Model S and Model X. To be clear, we are talking about automated driving (not fully autonomous driving) where the driver has a legal obligation to keep hands on the wheel at all times. The driver is still human… but with a ‘superhuman’ assist,”
Tesla has yet to make those active safety features reliable on its new Autopilot 2.0 suite in the Model S and X with its new ‘Tesla Vision’ image processing system, but if there are significant improvements by the time the Model 3 enters production later this year, Jonas could be onto something.
Even if level 4 or 5 autonomy is not ready or legally available, Tesla could still use the suite of sensors and its software to focus on ‘always-on’ safety features that could prevent more accidents.
We already witnessed several examples with the first generation of Tesla’s Autopilot, but the new suite with 360-degree camera coverage and ultrasonic sensors with a better range have the potential to be much more efficient. Here are a few examples with the first gen:
- Tesla Autopilot’s new radar technology predicts an accident caught on dashcam a second later
- Tesla’s new radar technology for Autopilot is already saving owners from accidents
- Tesla owner says Autopilot’s side collision avoidance system prevented highway accident caught on dashcam
- Video of Tesla Model S collision shows the Autopilot helping prevent an impact [Video]
- Tesla Autopilot reportedly prevented serious injury or saved the life of a pedestrian in DC