Among the many things that confuse or worry potential buyers of plug-in electric cars is whether they'll be safe.

One concern is car washes or even deep pools of water, but another is whether the battery pack will be damaged or dangerous in an accident.

Well, now you can chalk that last one off the list.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released the results of its crash tests on both the 2011 Nissan Leaf battery electric car and the 2011 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric, and both passed with flying colors.

2011 Chevrolet Volt during IIHS crash testing

2011 Chevrolet Volt during IIHS crash testing

Both cars earn the top IIHS rating for protection in front, side, rear, and rollover crashes.

Because both come standard with electronic stability control, each qualifies as the winner of the IIHS Top Safety Pick award for the best available crash protection.

As the IIHS says, "the milestone demonstrates that automakers are using the same safety engineering in new electric cars as they do in gasoline-powered vehicles."

IIHS calls its tests the "first-ever U.S. crash test evaluations of plug-in electric cars."

Thus far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn't release its own crash-test results for either the Volt or the Leaf.


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