With Chevrolet Volt hybrid cars now on the road for nearly a year since their debut at the end of 2010, and further to our comparison of the Chevy Volt to the Better Place Renault Fluence EV issues are now being raised as to how both of these cars have fared in simulated crash tests. Both the Chevrolet Volt and the Renault Fluence ZE, the car that Better Place is using for launching its electric car battery exchange network in countries like Denmark and Israel, were subjected to simulated road crash tests.
The crash tests have been carried out in the well known Euro NCAP testing center that gives tested cars crash resistance ratings scores ranging from 1 to 5 points.
Chevy Volt side test resulted in battery pack catching on fire
The Euro NCAP crash tests are conducted a speeds to 65 km/hr (40 mph) and are designed to simulate a collision of two similar sized cars, both of which are traveling at an averaged speed of 55 km/hr. Both the car’s front and rear ends are tested for crash resistance; and special dummies inside are also monitored as to how they react to the force of the impact. Side impact tests are also conducted to see how the car and its passengers fare when hit directly on the sides as well.
In a crash test involving the Chevy Volt, as reported in an article in the Christian Science Monitor, the Volt’s lithium battery pack caught fire in one test, and nearly did in another test. These events resulted in probes into the safety of these batteries by the America’s National Highway Safety Administration.
The overall crash test results of both of cars resulted in the Fluence EZ having an over crash test rating of 4 points, as compared to the Volt receiving a higher score of 5 points, highest in the auto safety rating program.
Renault has been promoting its cars as being some of the safest in the world; and the fact that the Volt received a higher test crash rating appears to disprove this claim. The Volt also scored higher points in the rear-end whiplash crash test; scoring 2.9 points against the Fluence scoring 2.0 points.
As a comparison, the Korean KIA Rio, a car that previously had a very bad crash test record, actually scored higher than both the Volt and the Fluence in total crash statistics for both adult and child passengers.
Both the crash tests on the Volt and the Fluence appear to show a vulnerability to their lithium battery packs, especially when hit in the side.
Whether or not the GM Volt and Renault Fluence manufacturers can strengthen their cars more in respect to damage from crashes remains to be seen. This appears to be especially critical in regards to the danger of the cars’ battery packs catching fire or even exploding in a serious car crash.
Safety factors are one big reason why consumers still buy gas-guzzling SUVs.
Read more on electric cars: