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Tesla Jumps as Model S Gets Safest Car Approval

Tickers in this article: TSLA

PALO ALTO, CA. (TheStreet) -- Tesla  shares are soaring Tuesday on the back of the government's reaffirmation of its five-star crash-test rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Tesla's flagship Model S can keep its 5-star rating, easing concerns that safety questions might plague the automaker.

Tesla was jumping 6.5% in mid-day trading to extend its 2013 advance to an eye-popping 352%.

While this is not the final word, given a separate investigation into the three recent fires (that actually harmed no one), it likely provides understandable relief to Tesla CEO Elon Musk given the black-and-white controversy surrounding this stock.

It will likely take many years until we can be certain whether there was something the government's crash tests didn't "catch" the first time around, and therefore caused some form of calamity down the road, metaphorically speaking. 

In the meantime, though, determining the safety of a mass-produced car is a little bit like trying to figure out whether there is global warming or not: You have to trust what you see.

The fact is that there are over 20,000 Tesla Model S cars currently on the roads. These cars are being driven in extreme climates from Florida to Norway. Given the power of the car (over 400 horsepower, 0-60 MPH in 4.4 seconds), drivers are also likely to push it faster than almost all other vehicles on the market.

Tesla cars have been driven a cumulative well over 100 million miles by now. While that number pales compared to the Chevrolet Volt's 550 million miles, it's still a lot. If there were a serious problem with the Tesla, people would be dying and getting injured.

Clearly, at some point injury and fatality will be unavoidable, even in the Tesla. It happens to every car sooner or later.

In the meantime, however, there is zero statistical evidence to suggest Tesla isn't among the safest cars on the road. There have been zero serious injuries, let alone deaths. When in doubt, trust the simplest and most basic facts.

It is a little bit like global warming. Some lofty theory says we have a calamity on our hands because warmer weather is a huge problem, and that sea levels are rising rapidly. Well, when you're outside, is it getting warmer? If you think it's about as cold this year and last, as it was 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago, perhaps you should trust your own observations.

Besides, where do you prefer to go when it's time for vacation -- to some nasty cold place, or somewhere nice and warm? Case closed.

Anyway, back to Tesla and its battery. The one thing that people in the auto industry have questioned in conversations with me is the Tesla battery's shape and placement. As far as electric car batteries go, Tesla's skews to the one extreme of the curve. It is very thin, flat and occupies the largest surface area of the car's underbody that I have seen in any electric car. It's basically a giant iPad/tablet residing like a square pancake between the four wheels.