The electric car market is growing, and as automakers launch more models, we’re on the verge of a new wave of models from what we’ve known in the past. As more people make the shift toward electric vehicles, there’s always the question of safety. In this video, Nathan highlights some of the safest EVs you can currently buy based on data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Some electric cars like the Fiat 500e do not have official IIHS ratings, even though its gas-powered counterparts do. As such, we’ve decided to omit them from this particular list, since there’s no data available. For others on this list, the IIHS splits various test ratings into four categories: Good, Acceptable, Marginal and Poor. Each of these five safest EVs managed well in available crash test data, and some go above and beyond with Good headlight ratings and advanced frontal crash prevention technology.
In the video above, we used a combination of IIHS and Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) footage, depending on what was publicly available at the time we made this video.
5) Chevrolet Bolt
The 2019 Chevrolet Bolt scored an “Acceptable” rating in the 40 mph small overlap IIHS crash test. It also scored a “Poor” rating for its headlights. The rest of the ratings were listed as “Good” by the IIHS. Entering production in 2017, the Chevrolet Bolt was recently updated and now has an EPA rated range of 259 miles on a single charge. This is one of the few vehicles on this this list that has an option for Level 3 (rapid DC) charging with the SAE Combo DC system.
4) Nissan Leaf Plus
The new Nissan Leaf Plus seen in this Euro NCAP crash test video has a significantly improved score over its predecessor. It scored “Good” in its moderate overlap front crash test, side impact test and with its head restraints and seats. However, the IIHS has not yet published ratings for small frontal overlap testing, roof strength, crash prevention technology or headlights.
The Nissan Leaf, which was introduced in Japan and the United States in December 2010, has sold more than 400,000 models worldwide since its introduction. According to Nissan, the Leaf Plus has a maximum range of 226 miles. Nissan announced a significant update to the Leaf’s range which will be unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.
3) BMW i3
The 2019 BMW i3 scored a “Good” rating on its small and moderate overlap crash tests, as well as side impact and roof strength tests. The i3 also scored an “Advanced” rating on its front crash prevention technology, but its headlights have not been rated. The BMW i3 is unique on this list as it’s the only EV featured that has an optional range extender. There is an option for a two-cylinder gas generator that can increase the range of the BMW i3. This gas generator starts when the battery falls below five percent. According to BMW, the 2019 i3 has a 153 mile all EV range and up to a 200-mile range with the available range extender.
2) Audi e-tron
The Audi e-tron SUV scored one of the highest possible ratings available from the IIHS. It scored a Top Safety Pick+ – which is to say it rated “Good” on every evaluation and the IIHS felt that the overall package was worthy of its absolute top score. There are a variety of vehicles know as e-tron as Audi is using the term for its emerging EV range. The 2019 Audi e-tron SUV has an EPA rated range of 204 miles.
1) Tesla Model 3
Not only has the Tesla Model 3 been a sales success for Tesla, but it has proven to be one of the safest vehicles ever tested by the IIHS. It achieved a Top Safety Pick+ rating and was noted for being especially strong with its roof-crush scores as well. The Tesla Model 3’s safety ratings are applicable across the lineup, from the base Standard Range model to the top-of-the-line Performance.
Bonus) Hyundai Nexo
The Nexo is the only vehicle one this list that uses hydrogen as its primary source of energy in addition to a battery pack. While it’s still considered an EV, the hydrogen system it uses sets it apart from the other vehicles on this list. It’s also currently only available for sale in California. Still, it did achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating, with models built after June 2019 scoring a “Good” rating on headlights.