Electric vehicles are continuing to show they can be as safe as their gas-powered counterparts, according to data examined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The non-profit, funded by insurance companies, examined electric and conventional versions of nine vehicle models from 2011 to 2019 as well as collision, property damage liability and injury claims. Data showed that rates of injury claims related to the drivers and passengers of electric vehicles were more than 40% lower than for identical conventional models over 2011-19
"It's fantastic to see more proof that these vehicles are as safe as or safer than gasoline- and diesel-powered cars," IIHS President David Harkey said in a press release.
IIHS also conducted crash tests with two new electric models. The 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge received a TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation, while the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E earned the lower-tier TOP SAFETY PICK award.
To receive the TOP SAFETY PICK award, vehicles must receive good ratings across six crashworthiness tests -- driver and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. IIHS said cars must also be available with headlights that are good or acceptable, as well as a front crash prevention system that earns advanced or superior ratings.
To qualify for the "plus" category, vehicles must come with good or acceptable headlights across all trim levels and packages.
This comes as the Biden administration announced it will switch the federal fleet to all electric vehicles and promised to have 500,000 charging stations installed across the United States by 2030.
"We can now say with confidence that making the U.S. fleet more environmentally friendly doesn't require any compromises in terms of safety," Harkey said.
While the number of electric vehicles on the market remains low, sales are set to hit their highest level on record in 2021. According to data from Edmunds.com, electric vehicle sales made up 1.9% of retail sales in the United States in 2020. Edmunds expects that number to grow to 2.5% this year.
Edmunds also anticipates 30 electric vehicles from 21 brands will become available for sale this year, compared to 17 vehicles from 12 brands in 2020.
Car manufacturers are also betting on electric. Last summer, Ford Motor Company announced it "intends to achieve carbon neutrality globally by 2050." As part of its plan, the company pledged to invest more than $11.5 billion in electric vehicles through 2022.
General Motors (GM) announced in January that it "it plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040."
To reach its goal, GM said it "plans to decarbonize its portfolio by transitioning to battery electric vehicles or other zero-emissions vehicle technology."