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Tesla's move from radar to vision costs it some safety endorsements — for now

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TSLATesla Model 3Source: Tesla

When Tesla decided to exclude radar sensors from its newer Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in the U.S., it had to downgrade functionality in these cars at least temporarily. As a result, Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are suspending some key safety endorsements for those cars.

Consumer Reports said it no longer lists the 2021 Tesla Model 3 as a “top pick” and reported that IIHS also plans to remove the Model 3’s “Top Safety Pick+” designation. Losing these recommendations for now could impact Tesla’s sales and marketing strength. Automakers generally tout such industry accolades in communication with prospective customers.

Jake Fisher, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center, told CNBC that Tesla can earn back its recommendations if it fully restores all functionality to its cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings pages for the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built on or after April 27, 2021, no longer have check marks indicating the agency has tested safety features in the modified Teslas, including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, crash imminent braking and dynamic brake support.

Fisher notes that crash imminent braking, also known as automatic emergency braking,