The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded the five-star rating to the Holden Volt, which has been officially launched this week and goes on sale in November at $59,990.
It performed well across all tests and includes eight airbags (dual front, front side and curtain airbags as well as knee airbags for the driver and front passenger), intelligent seat belt reminders in all seating positions, lane departure warning and forward collision alert.
The Volt is the second electric vehicle to be awarded ANCAP's five-star safety rating following the Nissan Leaf in 2011, while the electric-powered Mitsubishi i-MiEV rated four stars.
Holden's Volt is powered by an electric motor with a small petrol engine that charges the battery for longer range. In the US, General Motors early this year recalled 8000 Chevrolet Volts to toughen the protection around its battery pack and make other changes to prevent fires following a crash.
Holden spokeswoman Kate Lonsdale said the changes made in the US have been incorporated in the car for sale here. “We’re very excited about the result,” she says.
“It did well in the US and Europe and we were always confident it would go well here, but it’s always nice to get third party recognition.”
She said the Volt would have safety features that are a first for Holden such as a forward vision system that alerts the driver if they are tailgating, lane departure warning and eight airbags.
ANCAP chairman Lachlan McIntosh said motorists should be confident that electric cars would be safe. However, he said they were still looking into the possibility that they would become “live” with electricity after an accident.
“We’ve been looking at that for over 10 years since the Prius arrived with its big battery,” he says. “Car companies have organized training for emergency workers to handle those situations,"
"Battery-powered vehicles present a different challenge to manufacturers when incorporating crash protection into their designs however the crash protection provided by the Volt is on par with our traditionally-powered models.''
In other ANCAP results Audi's Q3 medium front-wheel-drive SUV and the Renault Megane diesel launched earlier this year also achieved maximum ratings. The Q3 scored an “acceptable” pedestrian protection rating and the Megane, “marginal".
The Suzuki Splash from 2011 achieved a four-star rating, lacking electronic stability control which has been a mandatory requirement for a five-star result since 2008.