RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For anyone considering buying an electric car, there’s growing evidence that they’re as safe or safer than conventionally powered vehicles. A new set of tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked into that.
Growing numbers of electric vehicles are hitting the road as people look for ways to be kinder to the environment. According to the IIHS, an electric car is also kinder for those who get into an accident.
The institute conducted a half-dozen tests including roof strength, collision avoidance, front crash protection, and front impacts on the Volvo XC 40 Recharge and Mustang Mach E. Both electric models performed well, with each earning a key safety award from the IIHS.
“We found that electric cars are as safe in our tests when it comes to crash worthiness collision avoidance as internal combustion engine models,” said IIHS president David Harkey.
How safe? According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, injury claims for electric cars are 40 percent lower than for identical gas-powered vehicles.
“The likely reason is that electric vehicles weigh a lot more,” Harkey said.
The added weight comes from the batteries in electric vehicles.
“We know from our research over the years that if you’re in a heavier vehicle, you often have less force exerted on your body in a crash and are less likely to be injured,” Harkey said.
Factor in the automatic crash protection features now available and it adds up.
“Those vehicles have those particular advanced driving assistance features and they performed well in our tests,” he said.
Some consumers are concerned about the danger of those electric car batteries exploding. The IIHS said that’s not a concern, but there are worries about batteries after crash during rescue attempts.
“There are some precautions emergency responders need to take in terms of making sure there’s no discharge from the battery that might injure them or injure the occupant they’re trying to get out,” Harkey said.
Practice sessions have helped first responders become familiar with how to deal with electric vehicle crashes.
Improved headlights on all models helped the Volvo achieve a Top Safety Pick Plus award while the Mustang scored lower.
“The Ford Mustang only has good headlights on 3-of-5 trim levels,” Harkey said. “The other headlights are marginal, which is why it only gets Top Safety Pick.”
In the next few years, some automakers plan to convert all their gas-powered models to electric cars so consumers can have confidence that they aren’t compromising safety if they go electric.