Crash Tests Show 2 Electric Cars SafeHigh gas prices are causing some people to go electric.
The two most popular models in the U.S. right now are the Chevy Volt, which combines plug in batteries and gasoline, and the Nissan Leaf, which operates on battery power alone.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has conducted safety crash tests on these two for the first time, wondering if all those heavy batteries and high voltage combined with a car engine make a difference in how safe passengers are in a crash.
"GM and Nissan did a really nice job of packaging these batteries in a very safe place on the vehicle, it's sort of under the rear seat and in the center tunnel, that area is really well protected," says Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vice President of Research Joe Nolan.
The experts said when they crashed the cars there were no leaking batteries or high voltage sparks that would cause a fire after a crash.
They added a few hundred pounds of batteries turned out to be a plus.
"These vehicles, even though they are classified by their size as small, weigh more than some mid-sized and even large cars, and that extra mass is a big safety advantage in crashes," Nolan explains.
Both General Motors and Nissan spokespersons said they were pleased with the crash test results.
They say they designed the cars to do just as good a job of protecting passengers as their cars that run on gasoline.