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Two Electric Cars Earn Top Safety Rating

Two electric cars ? Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf ? are getting the green light from safety experts.

Both vehicles recently earned the highest safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its first-ever U.S. crash test evaluations of plug-in electric cars.

The Volt and Leaf earned the top protection rating for the four most common kinds of injury crashes: front, side, rear and rollover. With these ratings and standard electronic stability control, they qualify as winners of Top Safety Pick, the Institute's award for state-of-the-art crash protection.

"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," says Joe Nolan, the Institute's chief administrative officer.

Fuel efficient, too

The dual-power Volt and all-electric Leaf not only surpass benchmarks for protecting occupants in crashes, but they also exceed current fuel efficiency and emissions standards. Both models are new for 2011.

  • The Volt is a plug-in battery/gasoline hybrid that can run in electric-only mode with a range of about 35 miles on a single charge. A gasoline engine kicks in to power the electric motor when the battery is spent.
  • The Leaf runs on battery power alone and has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated average range of about 73 miles on a single charge.

Small but safe

The Volt and Leaf are classified as small cars, with their overall length, width and passenger capacity in line with their peers. But their hefty battery packs put their curb weights and handling stability closer to midsize and larger cars.

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

The addition of the two electric cars brings the Institute’s number of safety award winners so far for this year to 80. It lifts General Motors' current model tally to 12 and Nissan's to 3. The safety ratings help consumers pick vehicles that offer a higher level of protection than federal safety standards require.

Shopping for a new car?

If you’re buying a new car, keep safety in mind and check out the full list of winners. Also, give us a call beforehand and we can let you know how much your new car will cost to insure. We can help you learn which safety features can earn you a discount on your ERIE auto insurance, too.

Posted 6:53 AM  View Comments

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