Chevy Volt takes top safety plus pick from IIHS

smallcartestsWe previously reported that EV batteries are safe, the next worry for car owners is how safe is the body of the vehicle in a crash.  The latest report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed that the Chevy Volt received the top Safety Pick +. The Volt tested better than its competitors in the overlap test, a simulation of what might happen when the front corner of car hits a pole or railing.

Introduced in 2012, the small overlap test, shows what happens when 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.

“Electric vehicles have a unique challenge in the small overlap test because of their heavy batteries. The Volt performed reasonably well, earning an acceptable rating, while the Leaf struggled,” said Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research.

Driver space in the Volt was maintained reasonably well in the test, and injury measures taken from the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries to a person in a similar crash. In the Leaf, the dummy was injured.  The Leaf chalked up as much as 16 inches of intrusion in the lower occupant compartment and 14 inches in the upper occupant compartment. The instrument panel, parking brake pedal and steering column were all pushed back toward the driver. Injuries to the left knee and left lower leg would be likely in a crash of this severity, and injuries to the left thigh would be possible.

The Volt earned a “good” rating – the highest the IIHS awards in its tests – in four of the six categories monitored during the small overlap front test. In the Structure category and the Restraints & Kinematics category, the Volt earned an “acceptable” rating. Altogether, the scores gave the Volt an overall acceptable rating in the test.

The Volt, which has a basic-rated optional forward collision warning system, is the only car in this test group to earn a 2014 Top Safety Pick+ award. The C-Max Hybrid, Countryman, Mitsubishi Lancer, and the Scion FR-S and its twin the Subaru BRZ qualify for Top Safety Pick, the Institute’s second-highest award. These models didn’t receive the “plus” award because they don’t have front crash prevention systems.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection, a good rating in the Institute’s other four tests, and a basic, advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. To qualify for Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection and a good rating in the other four tests.

In the Fiat 500L, survival space for the driver was seriously compromised by intruding structure. Serious hip and leg injuries would be possible in a real-world crash.