by IBO | 31 Jul 2014
General Motors Chevrolet Volt passed the U.S. insurance industry’s toughest frontal crash test, earning a grade of ‘acceptable,’ while Nissan Motor’s Leaf was rated ‘poor.’
“Electric vehicles have a unique challenge in the small overlap test because of their heavy batteries,” said Joe Nolan, the institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research. “The Volt performed reasonably well.”
With people choosing electrics or hybrids in greater numbers to help eliminate or reduce the cost of paying at the pump, brokers can now take this information and better determine which vehicles offer the greatest safety to their clients.
The Volt earned IIHS’s highest rating, ‘Top Safety Pick +,’ for good results in four other crash tests and for making a frontal crash-prevention system available.
For an ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’ rating, cars have to be engineered to preserve space around the head and torso, have seat belts that keep a driver from pitching too far forward, and plenty of air bags to mitigate crash forces.
The electric cars were part of a larger group of small cars run into a barrier meant to simulate a tree, telephone pole or other car, crushing about one-fourth of the car’s front end. The test is tougher than U.S. government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head-on crashes or other IIHS tests, the group said.
This is the first time the Arlington, Virginia-based safety group rated electric cars on how well they protect drivers and passengers in simulated crashes.
One other gasoline-electric model tested, Ford Motor’s C-Max Hybrid small, four-door wagon, also was given an ‘acceptable’ rating.
BMW’s Mini Cooper Countryman received a ‘good’ rating, the best in the group. Mazda Motor Corp.’s 5, a four-door hatchback, was rated poor – one of the three worst-testing small cars.
Overall, 13 of 32, or 41 percent, of the small cars tested by the insurance group in recent years earned ‘marginal’ or ‘poor’ ratings.