Volt, Leaf Get Highest Crash-Test Safety Ratings
Insurance group conducts first-ever tests on plug-in hybrid, EV
The way in which hybrid and electric vehicles are tested for crashworthiness is no different than for vehicles powered by an internal-combustion engine. Joe Nolan, IIHS chief administration officer, says the vehicle's structure "must manage crash damage so the occupant compartment stays intact and the safety belts and airbags keep people from hitting hard surfaces in and out of the vehicle."
While vehicles such as the Volt and Leaf are engineered with the same safety standards in mind as other vehicles, hybrids and EVs do have an advantage: weight. The battery packs used in such vehicles are heavy, putting the curb weight of the Volt and Leaf -- both classified as small cars -- in line with midsize and even larger family cars. Heavier vehicles generally do better in crash tests. And while manufacturers continuously strive to cut the weight of gasoline-powered vehicles in order to improve fuel economy, hybrids and EVs already return far better-than-average fuel-efficiency numbers.
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