Last Friday, General Motor announced the 2011 Chevrolet Volt became the first electric vehicle to earn a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The extended-range electric vehicle actually earned two out of three possible: It received a four-star front crash rating, a five-star side crash rating and a five-star rollover rating.

“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 in a press release.

The Volt received a four-star rating from NHTSA for front impact. It received five stars for the other two tests.

This latest confirmation of the Volt’s exceptional safety engineering adds to the Top Safety Pick status the Volt earned from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety near the end of April.

Last fall, NHTSA imposed a more stringent vehicle rating system for the 2011 model year. The tests now evaluate crash avoidance technologies and also 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.

More sophisticated crash test dummies were also brought in to use, including, for the first time, female dummies.

The new system’s overall crash score also is a new feature.

Last October NHTSA also said from among 2011 model year vehicles, it would test 24 cars, 20 SUVs, two vans and nine pickup trucks using the new system.

Thus far, 13 vehicles for 2011 have been evaluated, including the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Cruze, both of which also earned NHTSA’s five-star safety ratings.

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

NHTSA has not tested the Leaf.

Source: GM , Automotive News