First European tests prove EV's safety

Euro NCAP, the organization charged with crash-testing Europe's cars, has released the safety results of the first battery-electric vehicle it has ever tested.

Euro NCAP awarded the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which is currently on sale in Europe and Japan and will be coming to the US this year, a "creditable" four star rating, adding that its performance "shows that safety does not need to be compromised in zero-emissions vehicles."

As the i-MiEV is the base for the Citroën C-Zero and Peugeot iOn, also coming to market across Europe in 2011, all three will share the four-star rating.

Euro NCAP's Dr. Michiel van Ratingen said that the i-MiEV's high rating shows that a future five-star accolade for EVs is not unthinkable.

"Whether produced by established car manufacturers or by new players on the market, consumers should expect to get electric vehicles that meet the same safety standards as conventional vehicles," he said in a statement.

With other electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Opel Ampera hitting Europe's streets this year, the organization's first EV test signals a change in its testing strategy to accommodate the new technology.

It said that while plug-in vehicles are exposed to the same test conditions as their gasoline counterparts, special attention is paid to battery integrity after a crash, including the battery cut-off switch which isolates the power supply.

At January's North American International Auto Show, Volvo displayed a wrecked C30 electric, aiming to raise awareness and convince the public that electric vehicles are as safe as others.

It said that while the electric C30 had displayed the same safety level as the combustion engine version, its tests had drawn attention to some challenges such as reinforcing the front crumple zone, which normally contains a large, solid engine, and protecting the batteries.

Last year, General Motors began training first responders in the US about how to deal with an electric vehicle accident, including procedures such as shutting down the power supply, disabling airbag systems and how to deal with the battery packs, which can explode when exposed to high temperatures.

http://www.euroncap.com

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