Following a series of crash safety tests, the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has gathered further evidence to show that electric vehicles are as safe as conventional combustion engine vehicles, having awarded two more EVs with top safety awards.
The recently launched 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge gained the higher of the IIHS awards, the Top Safety Pick+, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E earned a Top Safety Pick award.
“It’s fantastic to see more proof that these vehicles are as safe as or safer than gasoline- and diesel-powered cars,” commented IIHS president David Harkey. “We can now say with confidence that making the U.S. fleet more environmentally friendly doesn’t require any compromises in terms of safety.”
In order for a vehicle to be awarded with an IIHS Top Safety Pick award, it must gain a good overall rating in six crash tests: driver and passenger side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. Alongside this, vehicles must have good headlights and a crash prevention system at the front of the vehicle with advanced ratings in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.
For a vehicle to gain the Top Safety Pick+ award, it must have good headlights available with each and every trim level or package of that vehicle. The IIHS recorded that the curve-adaptive LED reflector headlights installed on every iteration of the XC40 Recharge scored a good rating and consequently the plus award, however the Mach-E’s LED reflectors installed on certain trim levels were rated marginal as they did not provide adequate illumination on some curves, causing it to achieve only the standard award.
Both SUVs’ standard front crash prevention systems were marked as superior and advanced in the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.
The awards coincided with a recent study by the IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) looking at electric and conventional variants of nine models from 2011 to 2019. The study examined collision, property damage liability and injury claims, and showed that injury claims relating to the drivers and passengers of electric vehicles were more than 40% lower than for identical conventional models from 2011 to 2019.
The result was similar to a previous HLDI study of hybrid vehicles, where a likely explanation for the findings was that the large batteries used in both types of vehicles make them heavier than their counterparts. Because of this, occupants of heavier vehicles are exposed to lower forces in multivehicle crash scenarios. This is reflected by the XC40 Recharge having an overall weight of 2,171kg compared with 1,728kg for the conventional model.