2011 Chevrolet Volt gets five-star safety rating in the NHTSA crash test

Article by Christian Andrei, on June 4, 2011

General Motors announced that its 2011 Chevrolet Volt was given a five-star safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The ratings for the plug-in hybrid are as follows: a four-star for front crash, a five-star for side crash rating, and a five-star for rollover rating.

In a statement, Doug Parks, Volt's vehicle line executive, said that regardless of what powers a car (whether gas or electricity), safety will remain to be a key consideration for all buyers.

The NHTSA’s vehicle rating system for the 2011 model year is more stringent. This system now includes tests for crash avoidance technologies and side pole crash tests where the Volt got top scores in. The agency also used more advanced crash test dummies, which included females for the first time ever.

Another new feature to this rating system is the overall crash score. In a press release last October, the NHTSA said that it will test 24 cars, 20 SUVs, two vans and nine pickup trucks using the new system for model year 2011.

So far, 13 vehicles for the 2011 model year have earned five-star safety ratings. The list includes the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Cruze. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has also given its highest safety ratings to the Volt and its rival, the Nissan Leaf.

In the tests conducted by the IIHS, the vehicles (which are categorized as small cars) received top marks on all of the four crash tests -- front, side and rear collisions with another vehicle and a rollover accident. Funding for these tests was provided by auto insurance companies like Geico, All-State and State Farm.

Undeniably, the Voltec propulsion system serves as the core Chevrolet Volt, combining pure electric drive and an efficient engine that extends the EV’s range to a max of 350 miles. The new Chevrolet Volt features a 5.5-foot long, 435-lbs (198.1 kg) T-shaped, 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack – produced in Brownstown Township, Mich. – that sends power to a 111-kW (149-hp) electric drive unit. One fully charged battery could allow the Volt to achieve 25 miles and 50 miles of pure electric driving, with the range depending on terrain, temperature and driving techniques. Covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty, the batter of the Chevrolet Volt is designed to provide value, quality and performance as well as durability and reliability.

These batteries – including each pack's nine modules and 288 prismatic cells -- have been validated by over a million miles and four million miles of testing conducted by GM engineers since 2007. Each of the battery's 161 components – of which 95 percent are designed and engineered by GM – were able to comply with specifications and passed validations from different teams involved.

Drivers need not to worry that the battery’s power would be emptied, since the Chevrolet Volt is designed to seamlessly and smoothly transition to an extended-range mode in which the 1.4L gasoline-powered onboard engine would provide 63-kW (84-hp) of output to the electric drive unit for another 310 miles of range. Since the electric drive unit provides a low speed torque of 273 lb.-ft. (368 Nm), it allows the Volt to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 9.0 seconds, reach a quarter mile in less than 17.0 seconds and achieve a top speed of 100 mph.

To charge the battery of the Volt, a customer simply needs to connect the EV to a 120V conventional household electrical outlet (10-12 hours of charging) or a 240V charging station (four hours of charging). Interestingly, owners are given the option to schedule either immediate or delayed charges and even manage charging according to departure time or hours when electricity rates are much lower. The new Chevrolet Volt could be managed and monitored through MyVolt.com or the Chevrolet Mobile App as powered by OnStar MyLink.

Micky Bly, GM executive director for global electrical systems, remarked that just as customers are committed to technology that will help reduce reliance on gasoline, the carmaker is committing to deliver to customers the highest standards of value, safety and quality, as well as performance and reliability. These electrically driven capabilities of the new Chevrolet Volt are appropriately conveyed by its design. The new Chevrolet Volt is visually similar to an upscale, midsize sport sedan, thanks to its sleek, performance-oriented stance brought into life by its 105.7-inch (2,685 mm) wheelbase, its wide tracks -- 61.2 inches (1,556 mm) front and 62.1 inches (1,578 mm) rear – its wheels-out stance and sculpted belt line.

According to director of design Bob Boniface, since the Volt is a revolutionary car, its design should be made as sleek and dynamic as possible. He added that the Volt is very technical and refined in its execution, featuring interrelating surfaces that result to clean, crisp edges and creases. Chevrolet’s design and engineering teams collaborated with aerodynamicists in GM's wind tunnel to make sure that the Volt is shaped to become the most aerodynamic vehicle in the brand’s history. Since the new Volt needs less energy to overcome air resistance, it has achieved an extra eight miles of electric range and 50 miles of extended range. Chevrolet Volt's aerodynamic drag is reduced on the front by its rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille, and on the rear by the car’s sharp edges and spoiler control air flow. Moreover, the aggressive rake on the car’s windshield and back glass also help reduce turbulence and aerodynamic drag.

Press Release

2011 Chevrolet Volt Earns Five-Star Overall Safety Rating

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt is the first electric vehicle to earn a five-star overall vehicle score for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program.

"Safety is a key consideration for all buyers no matter how a car is powered – gas, or in the case of the Volt, electricity," said Doug Parks, Volt global vehicle line executive.

The Volt also has been named a 2011 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt's battery runs low, a gas-powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 344 miles on a full tank for a total driving range of 379 miles.

Safety features on the Volt include:

GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system
Front-, side- , knee- air bags as well as roof-mounted head-curtain air bags that help protect occupants in a side or rollover crash
Optional rearview camera system featuring a display integrated into the navigation system screen
Five-year subscription to OnStar's Directions and Connections Plan including Automatic Crash Response, stolen vehicle assistance and connected navigation

Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and more rigorous requirements for its five-star safety ratings program that provide more comprehensive information about safety performance and crash-avoidance technologies. Changes include a new side pole test simulating a 20-mph side-impact crash into a 10-inch-diameter pole or tree at a 75-degree angle just behind the A-pillar on the driver's side.

About Chevrolet

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 120 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended range. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com

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