Electric Cars receive serious praises thanks to excellent crash test ratings.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- June 5, 2011
2011 Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF during35-mph frontal offset crash testing.
What drives like a car and uses little to no gasoline during its lifetime? Why a Volt or LEAF of course
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf its highest safety ratings in the first-ever U.S. crash test evaluations of plug-in electric cars. This is the first full electrics to earn such a distinction and reveals that the Cruze platform form which the Volt was created and the Versa platform from which the LEAF was are built around the same safety engineering. In fact, the Versa scored poorly in past IIHS tests and today, the LEAF excelled which is a welcome relief indeed.
The Volt and Leaf earn the top rating of good for front, side, rear, and rollover crash protection. With standard electronic stability control, they qualify as winners of Top Safety Pick, the Institute's award for state-of-the-art crash protection.
According to the IIHS, the addition of the 2 electric cars brings to 80 the number of award winners so far for 2011, including 7 hybrid models. That lifts General Motors' current model tally to 12 and Nissan's to 3.
Joe Nolan, the Institute's Chief Administrative Officer:
"The level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers."
The dual-power Volt and all-electric Leaf are not only Top Safety Picks, they also provide owners with a real choice when it comes to gasoline limited or free transport with little to no sacrifice.
The Volt and Leaf are the first mainstream electric cars the Institute has tested. Last year engineers put 2 low-speed electric vehicles through side barrier tests for research purposes. Results for the GEM e2 and Wheego Whip were starkly different from results for the Volt and Leaf. Crash test dummies in the GEM and Wheego recorded data suggesting severe or fatal injuries to real drivers
. The GEM and Whip belong to a class of golf cart-like vehicles that aren't required to meet the same federal safety standards as passenger vehicles. Although growing in popularity, these tiny electrics aren't designed to mix with regular traffic.
Small but safe: The Volt and Leaf are classified as small cars, with their overall length, width, and passenger capacity in line with their peers. But their hefty battery packs put their curb weights closer to midsize and larger cars. The Leaf weighs about 3,370 pounds and the Volt about 3,760 pounds. This compares to about 3,200 pounds for Nissan's Altima, a midsize car, and about 3,580 pounds for Chevrolet's Impala, a large family car. Larger, heavier vehicles generally do a better job of protecting people in serious crashes than smaller, lighter ones because both size and weight influence crashworthiness.
For years the debate over fuel economy has been about making cars smaller and lighter, changes that could put people at greater risk of dying or being injured in crashes. The Institute long has maintained that advanced technology is key to improving fuel efficiency without downgrading safety.
The latest IIHS ratings prove that fuel efficiency and safety can go hand in hand and it is about time the consumer benefits from advances in both safety engineering and the latest electrified drivetrains for the betterment of all.