Electric Cars a Mixed Bag in First Front-Corner Crash Tests

Results were so-so for two small electric car models that underwent their first-ever front-corner crash tests, according to a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report.

The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt got an “acceptable” rating, and the EV Nissan Leaf got a “poor” rating in the “small overlap test,” which was designed to be tougher than other crash tests conducted by the IIHS. The small overlap assesses frontal collisions between a vehicle’s corner and objects like light poles.

The Volt and Leaf are the first electric models tested by the small overlap crash. Since its introduction in 2012, the test has stumped a handful of car models and types, especially smaller-sized vehicles.

Related Story: Most Minicars Flunk Frontal Crash Test

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

The Volt showed low risk of significant injuries because the driver compartment “maintained reasonably well” in the crash test, according to the Institute.

Chevy Volt courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns

The Leaf, however, was a different story. In the crash test, the Institute said, several areas of the car were “pushed back” into the driver compartment that could result in injuries to the driver’s left leg.

The Volt model, which has the option of a forward-collision warning system, was the only one of the group to get a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award.

The two electric cars were part of a crop of 12 small car models recently tested by the Institute.

The Mini Cooper Countryman was the only car model to get the Institute’s highest overall rating of “good.” It was also a Top Safety Pick. Here is the listing of the car models that were awarded Top Safety Picks:

  • Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Ford C-Max Hybrid
  • Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Scion FR-S
  • Subaru BRZ

Photo courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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