Electric Car Safety Rating

Electric cars have taken over transportation all over the world. According to the International Energy Agency, a total of 6.6 million electric cars were sold in 2021, which was almost nine percent of the entire 2021 car sales in the world.

With over five million car accidents in the United States, how safe are electric cars? Are electric cars safer than internal combustion engine cars?

Read below for everything you need to know about electric car safety ratings.

What is Safety Rating?

Like internal combustion engine vehicles, electric cars are subjected to various testing to ensure safety. If a vehicle does not meet the required results criteria, that car will not be allowed to go on the road.

Different areas of the world have their own electric car safety rating criteria. These ratings are divided into five categories:

  • Five Stars: Cars that perform excellent crash protection come with anti-crash or crash prevention technologies.
  • Four Star: Cars that perform good crash protection might come with crash prevention technologies.
  • Three Star: Cars that perform average crash protection lack crash prevention technologies.
  • Two Star: Cars with limited crash prevention technologies perform basic crash protection.
  • One Star: Cash that performs marginal crash protection and does not come with crash prevention technologies.
  • Zero Star: Cars that lack any safety technology.

Electric Car Safety Rating Tests

Different regions have different safety tests for vehicles. In Europe, the electric car safety rating is given by the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP).

In the United States, an electric car safety rating is given by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The IIHS uses a grading system of Superior, Average, or Basic, while the NHTSA uses a five-star system to give an electric car safety rating.

These institutes test the electric vars on various categories to see how suited they are for road travel.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

The IIHS was founded in 1959 and has worked to reduce the frequency of car accidents in America and the severity of injuries caused by these accidents.

The IIHS standard continues to evolve as time passes, unlike the NHTSA, and IIHS electric car safety ratings are considered credible. Their safety evaluation consists of three testing categories:

1. Crashworthiness Testing

IIHS crashworthiness testing is further divided into six evaluations:

  • Modern overlap front
  • Drive-side small overlap front
  • Passenger-side small overlap front
  • Original side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints and seats

Their front crash tests involve a vehicle carrying dummies representing adult males, crashing into a barrier at forty miles per hour.

Their Side Tests involve crashing a forty-two hundred pound barrier and colliding on the driver’s side of the car at thirty-seven miles per hour.

The integrity of the safety cage determines the car’s rating after the collision, injury sensors on the dummies, and the car’s ability to limit the movement of the dummies during a crash.

The head restraints and seat belt test involves a dummy, made to represent a realistic spine, positioned at the driver seat mounted on a sled, and the collision movements are replicated. The rating is determined based on the likelihood of whiplash.

The roof strength test involves measuring the force needed to crush the roof. The pressure applied is increased steadily. The electric car safety rating is determined by the strength-to-weight ratio, where a ratio of 8 is the highest, 3.5 is acceptable, and below 2.5 is poor.

2. Front Crash Prevention Testing

Most electric cars come with automatic emergency brake features, and IIHS evaluates these features. Cars are assessed based on how well they detect and prevent collisions.

Vehicle front crashes are replicated at twelve and twenty-five miles per hour. These tests include perpendicular vehicle-pedestrian and vehicle-vehicle tests.

Parallel vehicle-vehicle tests are conducted at twenty-five and thirty-seven miles per hour.

The electric car safety rating is determined based on the car’s ability to slow down before a collision and prevent a crash.

3. Headlight Testing

The IIHS is strict in its headlight evaluation. The headlight testing includes evaluating a car’s headlight option of straightway, sharp right and left curves, and gradual right and left turns.

The electric car safety rating is determined by the distance between the car and the furthest point illuminated with five lux.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The NHTSA is a government agency under the Department of Transportation. It was founded in 1970 to reduce economic loss, deaths, and injuries caused by car accidents.

The NHTSA evaluate crash testing, side barrier tests, side pole collision rests, and rollover resistance test.

1. Front Crash Testing

NHTSA determines the electric car safety rating based on a car’s front crash with another vehicle of the same weight and size. The car is loaded with dummies representing an adult male and an adult female.

NHTSA front cash testing involves crashing a vehicle into a barrier at thirty-five miles per hour. The safety rating is determined using sensors in the neck, head, chest, and legs of the dummies.

2. Side Crash Testing

Side crash safety rating is evaluated through the side barrier and side pole tests.

The side barrier test involves a three thousand-pound barrier crashing into a stationary car at thirty-nine miles per hour.

The side pole test involves only a single dummy (representing an adult) in a car. The car, angeled at seventy-five degrees, is pulled towards a pole with a twenty-five-centimeter diameter at twenty miles an hour.

3. Rollover Testing

The rollover test analyzes a car’s weight distribution and center of gravity in a closed lab. The test assesses a car’s likeliness to tip over when maneuvered at fifty-five miles per hour.

New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)

The NCAP is a European car safety assessment program that performs various tests to assess electric car safety ratings. These tests include:

  • Progressive Deformable Barrier
  • Full-Width Rigid Barrier
  • Side Impact Barrier
  • Side Pole
  • Far Side Impact
  • Whiplash
  • Safety Assist
  • Rescue and Extrication

The vehicles are scored using a five-star system, with five stars being the highest and zero stars being the lowest. These cars are rated based on:

  • Adult Protection
  • Child Protection
  • Road Users (pedestrians and cyclists) Protection
  • Safety Assist

Battery Testing

Many organizations, such as the Society of Automotive Engineering and the Global Technical Regulation No. 13, subjected electric car batteries to many tests, including:

  • Thermal Resistance
  • Fire Resistance
  • Vibration
  • Short Circuit Protection
  • Over/Under Charge Protection
  • Electrolyte Leak Protection

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard addresses full-car crash tests in the United States and requires the following criteria to be met after or during the crash:

  • Electrical isolation of the RESS should be greater than 500 Ω/V.
  • Electrolyte leak/spill should not be more than five liters or enter the occupant compartment.
  • RESS should remain attached to the vehicle.

IIHS and NHTSA Electric Car Safety Ratings

With the above testing methods in mind, below are the top electric car safety-rating vehicles:

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 is considered one of the safest electric cars by NHTSA standards; that performs excellent crash protection and comes with a wide range of anti-crash features.

Tesla Model 3 safety features include the automatic emergy braking system, collision warning, lane avoidance, and blind spot collision warning.

Tesla Model 3 was given the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. 

  • Frontal Crash Test: 5/5
  • Side Crash Test: 5/5
  • Rollover Test: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Chevy Bolt EV

The Chevy Bolt EV hatchback received a ‘Good’ rating from IIHS and only lost a point in the frontal crash test. The Chevy Bolt EV is considered the second safest electric car of 2022.

Chevy Bolt was recommended to integrate forward collision and lane departure warnings to get a perfect score.

  • Frontal Crash Test: 4/5
  • Side Crash Test: 5/5
  • Rollover Test: 5/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Toyota Prius Prime

The Prius Prime includes many safety features such as the crash imminent braking and the forward collision warning. Receiving the ‘Superior’ rating from IIHS, the Prius lacked only rollover protection.

  • Frontal Crash Test: 5/5
  • Side Crash Test: 5/5
  • Rollover Test: 4/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Nissan Leaf

Nissan leaf came fourth in the IIHS electric car safety rating list and was a ‘Good’ rating by IIHS. The Nissan Leaf impressed the IIHS tea with its Lane departure and forward collision warning.

  • Frontal Crash Test: 4/5
  • Side Crash Test: 5/5
  • Rollover Test: 4/5
  • Overall: 5/5

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The Outlander received a ‘Superior’ rating from IIHS for its front crash test and a ‘Basic’ rating for its vehicle-pedestrian collision test, so the Outlander is all over the place.

However, it is still considered one of the safest electric cars of 2022, receiving a five-star rating from NHTSA due to its lane departure warning and crash imminent braking features.

  • Frontal Crash Test: 4/5
  • Side Crash Test: 5/5
  • Rollover Test: 4/5
  • Overall: 5/5

NCAP Electric Car Safety Ratings

Following are the top safest electric cars according to the NCAP electric car safety rating:

Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X provides autopilot, front and back airbags, automatic braking, and active bonnet features, receiving a five-star rating from NCAP.

  • Adult Protection: 98%
  • Child Protection: 81%
  • Road User Protection: 72%
  • Safety Assist: 94%

Mercedes EQC

The Mercedes EQC provides automatic collision avoidance, parking assist, steering assist, and active speed limit assist. However, the Mercedes EQC lost some points in Road User Protection and Safety Assist Tests.

  • Adult Protection: 96%
  • Child Protection: 90%
  • Road User Protection: 75%
  • Safety Assist: 75%


The MG ZS model provides emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, hill start assist, rollover protection, and airbags.

  • Adult Protection: 90%
  • Child Protection: 85%
  • Road User Protection: 64%
  • Safety Assist: 70%

Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe offers a wide range of safety features, including cruise control, traction control, tire pressure monitors, and emergency brake assist.

  • Adult Protection: 89%
  • Child Protection: 80%
  • Road User Protection: 66%
  • Safety Assist: 85%

Audi E-Tron

The Audi E-Tron provides emergency braking, lane departure warning, speed limiter, cruise control, airbags, and pre-tensioning seatbelts.

  • Adult Protection: 91%
  • Child Protection: 85%
  • Road User Protection: 71%
  • Safety Assist: 76%

Electric Car Safety Concerns

While electric cars are steadily increasing in the market, they are still new cars, and many questions are circling their safety standards.

Most of these questions are addressed by the tests mentioned above. However, some are still ambiguous. Read below to find out about the safety concerns of electric cars.


Most electric cars use combustible lithium-ion batteries in cases of short-circuiting or damage resulting in fire.

However, these batteries are far less likely to catch fire than ICE cars. They are surrounded by a protective coolant covered by a protective layer.

Electric cars install many lithium-ion batteries in series instead of one big lithium-ion pack, so the chances of a big incident are unlikely.

These batteries can operate at temperatures above fifty degrees and below thirty degrees Celsius.

Air Quality

ICE cars burn fossil fuel that releases harmful gasses into the air, contaminating the environment and causing many ecological and health concerns

Electric cars do not burn fuel and produce harmful emissions, decreasing the chances of air pollutants being introduced into the environment.


Lithium-ion batteries produce electricity used to run the motor in electric cars. As mentioned, these batteries are sealed in protective cases.

These batteries are not prone to wear and tear by environmental conditions and external tampering, so there are few chances of electrocution.  

Electric Car Safety Rating
Electric Car Safety Rating


Electric car safety rating tests prove that electric cars are just as safe, if not safer, as internal combustion engine cars.

The electric cars are tested to ensure they are safe enough for passengers and pedestrians to be driven on the road. With new electric cars being built to be better than ever and technology advancing at a tremendous rate, we can expect the electric car safety ratings to reach even higher.

You may also like: