2011 Chevrolet Volt in IIHS crash testEnlarge Photo
The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has become the first electric vehicle to earn a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which adds to the recent “2011 Top Safety Pick” awarded to the Volt by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The NHTSA award is made more significant by the fact that the agency introduced stricter standards for the 2011 model year, and now includes additional tests such as a 20-mph side impact test into a 10-inch diameter pole.
Helping the Volt garner the five-star award are standards features such as GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control system and front, side, knee and head-curtain airbags to protect occupants in a side impact or rollover crash. Chevy Volts also come with a five year subscription to OnStar services, which include Automatic Crash Response to deploy emergency services in the event of a crash.
Doug Park, Chevrolet’s Volt global line executive, said of the award, “Safety is a key consideration for all buyers no matter how a car is powered – gas, or in the case of the Volt, electricity.”
His comment is sure to inflame passions in the Volt versus Leaf electric vehicle wars, made worse last week by Nissan’s controversial “What if everything ran on gas” ad. The Chevrolet Volt is often called an “extended range electric vehicle,” as it uses gasoline to power a generator and supply current to the electric motor when its lithium-ion batteries are depleted.