Volt and Leaf ace crash tests

The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf earn coveted crash test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.The Chevrolet Volt (left) and Nissan Leaf earned the coveted Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. See video. By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf plug-in cars both earned top scores in crash tests, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Tuesday.

Both vehicles earned the Institute's coveted Top Safety Pick award, given to cars that get the best possible ratings in side and front crash tests as well as the best scores for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

"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 performances," said Joe Nolan, the Insurance Institute's chief administrative officer, in a statement.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an industry group financed by auto insurers. Its crash tests are different from those performed by the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Neither the Volt nor the Leaf has yet been rated by NHTSA.

The Leaf and the Volt each weigh almost 700 pounds more than comparable gasoline-powered cars by Nissan and General Motors.

The extra weight, mostly in the form of large battery packs, should help their performance in real-world crashes, the Institute said in its statement. In crashes between different vehicles, the lighter vehicle bears the brunt of the impact.

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

Since the Institute's tests involve crashing vehicles into a fixed barrier instead of into another car, the weight advantage was not a factor in the test scores.

Electric cars run on high voltage electricity stored in batteries. That means there are some special safety considerations with electric cars including the fear of possible electrocution for occupants and those who may have to rescue them from crashes. The cars' high-voltage electric systems posed no problems in the crash tests, Institute spokesman Russ Rader said.

"Both vehicles' batteries are well shielded in the middle of the vehicle and away from any crash damage," Rader said, "and they have systems that shut off the high voltage electricity in the event of a crash."

The Nissan Leaf is a purely electric vehicle with a driving range of about 73 miles per charge, according to EPA ratings. The Volt has a range of about 35 miles, as measured by the EPA, but it also has a gasoline engine that generates electricity for driving longer distances.

The Nissan leaf recently won the World Car of the Year award. The Volt won North American Car of the Year and Motor Trend Car of the Year, as well as several other awards late last year and early this year. Both vehicles went on sale in November of last year. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,805.41 127.51 0.76%
Nasdaq 4,483.72 30.93 0.69%
S&P 500 1,964.58 13.76 0.71%
Treasuries 2.27 -0.00 -0.09%
Data as of 5:00pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 13.78 -0.62 -4.31%
Microsoft Corp 46.13 1.11 2.47%
Apple Inc 105.22 0.39 0.37%
Bank of America Corp... 16.72 0.12 0.72%
Yahoo! Inc 43.50 0.90 2.11%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

Drug makers, airlines and entertainment companies are among the stocks that some investors say could be impacted by the worst Ebola outbreak in history. More

With oil and gas prices falling, some in Washington are questioning whether it makes sense to hold 106 days worth of supply in storage. More

Shares of Facebook recently topped $80. They've more than quadrupled from their post-IPO lows of two years ago. Can Mark Zuckerberg keep the momentum in mobile going? More

Using technology developed for the military and implemented in Iraq, schools have installed alarm systems that detect gunfire. More

Big purchases often come with big expectations. So it's no wonder that in a recent survey 80% of homebuyers said they regretted at least one thing about their home. Here are ways to improve those odds. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.