Volt, Leaf earn top safety ratings

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May 2, 2011 — The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf earned top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its first-ever crash evaluations of plug-in electric vehicles.

The cars rated “good” for front, side, rear and rollover crash protection, according to the institute. The vehicles also offer standard electronic stability control. As a result of the tests, the Volt and Leaf qualify as winners of the Top Safety Pick, which recognizes state-of-the-art crash protection above federal safety standards.

So far this year, 80 vehicles, including seven hybrids, have qualified for the Top Safety Pick. The institute said the Volt and Leaf tests demonstrated that electric vehicles are built as safe as their gas-powered counterparts, which are tested in the same way.

“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,” said Joe Nolan, the institute's chief administrative officer.

Nolan said the added battery weight in the Volt and Leaf actually helps make them safer. Because of their efficient powerplants, the cars are able to buck the longtime trend toward smaller, lighter frames.

“The Leaf and Volt's extra mass gives them a safety advantage over other small cars,” Nolan said. “These electric models are a win-win for fuel economy and safety.

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