An auto insurance trade group, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, has named a hybrid vehicle as a top safety pick. The Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a small gasoline engine, achieved the honor along with the all-electric Nissan Leaf. The Insurance Institute offered the judgment after the group's first US crash tests of plug-in and pure electric cars. Anyone wondering if hybrid vehicles are going to be safe can rest easy.
The Volt earned its top rating of "good" for front, side, rear and rollover crash protection. The Institute also noted that both the Volt and the Leaf have standard electric stability control which the group considers a crucial safety feature. Makers of hybrid vehicles are clearly using the same standards of safety in the production of these new types of cars as in the more common internal combustion engine vehicles.
Critics have long argued that hybrid vehicles could not be made economically and that safety would be compromised in the rush to "go green," but the recent crash tests show that this is not the case. These hybrid vehicles are as safe or safer than any car produced today.
Both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt are small cars which initially would seem to indicate a lack of safety. Both, though, have battery packs adding significant weight to the vehicles making them safer than other cars in their class. This, too, was demonstrated by the Institute's crash tests.
Additionally, the tests proved that using technology to boost fuel economy, such as the electric batteries in both these vehicles, is preferable to simply downsizing and lightening the weight of cars to save fuel. Hybrid vehicles are actually safer than standard cars of the same size while remarkably fuel-efficient at the same time.
These hybrid vehicles are perfect for highway driving. Should a crash occur, these cars will protect the drivers better than the vast majority of standard cars.
In fact, these electric cars are far safer than the low-speed vehicles, such as the GEM e2 or the Wheego Whip, which were judged dangerous after crash tests last year. These are golf-cart-like vehicles which are becoming increasingly popular, but are not required to meet the national safety standards of passenger vehicles.
The image of the electric and hybrid car was damaged in the mind of the consumer by these small carts which were never meant for highway driving. Nevertheless, industry observers think that the new tests will propel the Leaf and the Volt forward in the minds of eco-minded consumers who have been waiting for a chance to purchase a reasonably green, fuel-efficient and safe car for at least five years. The time has finally arrived. Both the Leaf and the Volt are extremely safe, fuel-efficient and will not harm the environment. Auto makers have finally turned the corner on producing desirable hybrid vehicles.
Diane Butler, Ph.D., a writer living in Southern California, has eagerly awaited the appearance of a popular and safe hybrid cars. She has always hoped to see the demise of the polluting internal combustion engine.