Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf score well in first-ever crash tests of electric cars
In its first-ever crash tests of plug-in electric cars, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety handed its highest safety ratings to the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.
The institute says the test results demonstrate “that automakers are using the same safety engineering in new electric cars as they do in gasoline-powered vehicles.”
However, those test results won’t mean a big break on your auto insurance premiums.
|The Chevrolet Volt (top) and the Nissan Leaf got the highest ratings possible in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s first-ever crash tests for plug-in electric cars.|
“Crash test results tell consumers a lot about safety, but they have little bearing on insurance rates,” says Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute.
The Volt and Leaf earned the top rating of “good” for front, side, rear and rollover crash protection. The Volt and Leaf also offer crash-avoiding electronic stability control. Each of the cars qualified for the institute’s “Top Safety Pick” designation.
“What powers the wheels is different, but the level of safety for the Volt and Leaf is as high as any of our other top crash test performers,” says Joe Nolan, the institute’s chief administrative officer.
The dual-power Volt and all-electric Leaf were rolled out for the 2011 model year. They’re the only electric vehicles currently offered in the United States by major automakers.
“Safety remains one of the most important factors buyers weigh when purchasing a vehicle,” says Doug Parks, head of General Motors’ Volt group.
Brian Carolin, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America Inc., says: “Nissan has a long-standing commitment to safety and innovation.”
The Volt and Leaf are classified as small cars, with their length, width and passenger capacity in line with their peers. But their hefty battery packs put their weights closer to midsize and large cars.
The Leaf weighs about 3,370 pounds and the Volt about 3,760 pounds. This compares with about 3,200 pounds for the Nissan Altima, a midsize car, and about 3,580 pounds for the Chevrolet Impala, a large car. Larger, heavier vehicles generally do a better job of protecting people in serious crashes than smaller, lighter ones, according to the institute.
“The Leaf and Volt’s extra mass gives them a safety advantage over other small cars,” Nolan says.