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Sometimes Being Green Means Sacrificing Safety

(Credit: © IIHS)

Car Safety

Sometimes Being Green Means Sacrificing Safety

2014 Nissan Leaf Crash Test

2014 Nissan Leaf Crash Test (Credit: © IIHS)

Kermit the Frog has famously sung the song “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” and now people who own the Nissan Leaf can say the same thing. Those individuals likely bought their car as a quest to keep the environment safe, never thinking that doing so might put their life in danger.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released the results of crash tests for a batch of small cars. Of particular interest is how green models fared on the notoriously strenuous small frontal overlap test, which involves only 25 percent of the front end of a vehicle striking a barrier. In the past, models that were once considered safe performed poorly on the test, which is supposed to simulate the car striking a tree, pole or other small, solid object.

It was the first time the Nissan Leaf has gone through the test, and things didn’t turn out so great. The small electric car achieved a “poor” rating as engineers recorded a 16-inch intrusion into the lower portion of the cabin and 14 -inches of intrusion into the upper area. The car’s A-pillar was severely crushed as well. On the plus side, IIHS said the battery pack was well-protected, which is an area electric car foes focus on as a safety downfall of the technology.

The Ford C-Max Hybrid also didn’t fare so well in the crash test, but the Chevrolet Volt performed quite well. In fact, GM’s controversial extended-range electric car experienced little damage to the A-pillar and little intrusion into the occupant space. In other words, according to IIHS tests, the driver of a Leaf or C-Max Hybrid would likely have suffered serious injuries to his legs, while the driver of a Volt would have walked away from such an accident.

Chevrolet has a big reason to brag since the Volt was the only small electric car to achieve a “Top Safety Pick Plus” overall rating from IIHS. In fact, few vehicles have achieved that status since IIHS introduced more stringent standards.

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