Many people focus on the benefits of electric cars in terms of fuel costs, but safety is proving to be a big strong point too. The Audi A3 e-tron is the latest plug-in car to earn the coveted 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating across the board, though the Kia Soul EV didn’t fare quite as well, earning a still-respectable 4 out of 5 stars.
Last month the Tesla Model S earned a 5-star rating in the NCAP test, making it one of just a few vehicles to have a 5-star safety rating, bolstering the argument that electric cars are inherently safer. The Model S battery fire issue seems to have been resolved by the addition of an underbody shield, as has the Volt battery fire non-issue. However the Nissan LEAF, which is based on the Versa, earned a “Poor” rating in the American small overlap crash test, but in 2012 it earned a full 5-star rating in the European testing. Go figure.
As for the Audi A3 e-tron, it boasts a 31-mile driving range and a $50,000 price tag in its native Germany, and the 5-star rating is another bragging right it can boast. One reason plug-in cars seem to fare better in crash testing is the heavy batteries are mounted low, keeping the center of gravity close to the ground. The solid mass of battery also adds to the structural rigidity of the car, so it can better withstand forceful impacts.
Perhaps automakers should play up the safety electric cars offer alongside the environmental and financial benefits.