Chevrolet Volt aims for top safety rating

The Volt was awarded a top five-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on the other side of the Atlantic, increasing expectations it will achieve a similar score in the UK when it arrives next year.

During the tests, the car was awarded points for its use of electronic stability control to prevent rollover, front, side and knee airbags and optional rear-view camera system.

The achievement is impressive because the car is the first to achieve the rating with an electric-powered drivetrain.

Although not a true electric car, the Chevrolet Volt mirrors the Vauxhall Ampera in using an extended range electric system.

This means the car is powered by an electric motor which is in turn powered by a lithium-ion battery. However, if the battery is empty, a small petrol engine is capable of recharging the battery and extending the range to over 350 miles if necessary.

UK versions of the Volt will also boast a function for choosing the driving mode, meaning the petrol engine can be used for longer motorway journeys and switched to electric mode in cities or heavy traffic.

The Chevrolet Volt will also be eligible for the UK government’s plug-in grant, which offers £5,000 off the price of electric cars while funds last.

Other cars capable of qualifying for the grant include the Citroen C-Zero electric car and its identical sibling, the Peugeot iOn. Both received a four-star EuroNCAP safety rating when tested earlier in the year.

The Vauxhall Ampera, the near-identical model the Chevrolet Volt, will also qualify for the grant when it goes on sale in the UK in 2012.

Prices for both the Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera have yet to be confirmed in the UK.