(Updates with closing share price in the final paragraph.)
Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car maker led by billionaire Elon Musk, said its flagship Model S sedan received the highest crash test ratings of any car tested by U.S. regulators.
The battery-powered vehicle, with a base price of about $70,000, got five-star ratings in every safety and crash category set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in a statement. The car has the “lowest likelihood of injury to occupants” and exceeds the performance of sport-utility vehicles and minivans, Tesla said late yesterday.
The assessment follows Consumer Reports magazine rating Model S among the best cars it’s ever tested, in a May review. Tesla, named for inventor Nikola Tesla, plans to deliver a record 21,000 of the lithium-ion battery sedans this year to customers in North America, Europe and Asia.
Tesla reported second-quarter earnings this month that surpassed analyst estimates on a surge in Model S deliveries. On its operating basis, Tesla said it will make money all year, even as it expands to Europe and Asia.
The Model S lacks a large engine block and has a larger “crumple zone” to protect passengers in the event of a crash, the company said. That helped the car get a combined 5.4-star score in government tests. Musk, 42, who is both Tesla’s chief executive officer and biggest shareholder, joked in a July interview that the car would get “six- or seven-star ratings” if government tests had such designations.
Tesla gained 3.2 percent to $149.58 at the close in New York. The company’s shares have increased more than fourfold this year, compared with a 16 percent increase for the Russell 1000 Index. Musk’s personal net worth has more than tripled this year to $7.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
--Editors: Terje Langeland, Chua Kong Ho