For the longest time Green vehicles referred simply to their ability to outperform standard combustion engines on fuel efficiency. Yet all the categories of green vehicles are seeing marked improvements in safety as well, making them some of the safest vehicles on the road. From standard hybrids to full electric cars to the future of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and self-driving/driverless vehicles, safety has become a hallmark of these vehicles today and the future. Follow along as we describe some of the most amazing safety features in green transportation.
Hybrids get 5 Stars
One of the issues that have been plaguing hybrid car manufacturers is the elusive 5 Star crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However for 2016 models there are already 6 hybrids, 1 of which is a plugin, that have received this amazing 5 Star rating. For conventional vehicles this rating can often make a huge difference for consumers making a decision. With so few getting the designation in the past for hybrids, it was just something that green car enthusiasts had to live without; until now.
The 5 Star rating includes a full testing by the NHTSA which requires three 5 star ratings and a minimum 4 star rating on 2 others which include frontal crash, side crash, rollover crash. The following six hybrids now have this distinguished rating.
- Lincoln MKZ Hybrid – priced the same as all-gas, 41 mpg city rating and additional features of lane departure warning (LDW) and forward collision warning (FCW) are advised
- Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – an all plug-in model arrives in the fall, 44/40 highway/city mpg and LDW and FCW available as options
- Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid – with 150 horsepower (hp), 48 mpg highway was given 5 Stars before it even started selling
- Ford Fusion Hybrid/Energi – hybrid and plug in models with 44 mpg city and 95 mpg city is impressive with standard rearview camera and optional LDW and FCW
- Kia Optima Hybrid – only hybrid to get all three perfect 5 star ratings on the front, side and rollover crash tests with 40 mpg highway
- Toyota Camry Hybrid – is the 2nd bestselling gas-electric hybrid in the US with 43 mpg city and 39 mpg highway.
Now you can get a gas-electric hybrid vehicle from your favorite auto manufacturer for the best mass production vehicle fuel efficiency and a top crash rating as well.
The EV King
The King of the all-electric vehicle has to be Tesla. One of the first to market with a performance electric vehicle that both performs well and looks amazingly stylish, it has been heralded as the “Car of the Century”, “World Green Car of the Year”, and “Best 25 Invention of the Year”. The Tesla Model S provides some amazing safety features built into its already illustrious electric driving abilities.
The Model S is one of a very few cars to have ever received not only the NHTSA’s 5 star rating but also the Euro NCAP 5-star rating as well, being dually 5-star rated on 2 continents for its superior anti-crash technology. The Model S has also stunningly received a perfect five 5-Star NHTSA crash test rating adding it to only 2 other vehicles to have ever received this perfect rating by NHTSA since 2011.
In the early years of the Model S, 2012-2013 there were reports of battery fires. However, these were over-exaggerated and Tesla moved quickly to beef up the cares safety from the bottom up. A titanium shield was installed on the bottom of the vehicles and aluminum vents to prevent under-carriage punctures to the battery compartment. The Model S can raise and lower its suspension at the will of the driver to a minimum of 6 inches of clearance for highway driving. As this was a concern, the vehicle now also sports the ability to automatically raise and lower the vehicle over marked terrain to avoid being too low.
Hydrogen for Long Term Safety
The discussion around hydrogen fueled cars has been one of debate over the past 20 years. Even with Toyota unveiling the Mirai in Japan in 2014 and North America in late 2015, it is rumored that Toyota will lose as much as $100,000 on every car produced. Its sale price is similar to the Tesla Model S, but the economy for hydrogen vehicles is predicted not to outpace that of electric-cell vehicles until many decades later. However, the same was originally said of electric vehicles. The need for alternative powered vehicles has pushed the auto manufacturers into a long view of the future.
This in turn has created an environment among hydrogen projects of innovation, especially around safety. The main safety concern with hydrogen fueled cars is the fuel itself in the case of an accident. With the new Toyota Mirai, they claim this fear can be shelved as its system of automatic shut off combined with instant dissipation allows for hydrogen to be stored safely and effectively. Their new storage tanks are a leap forward in the safety of these vehicles. The main concern now is increasing the so-called ‘well-to-wheel’ efficiencies of the vehicles to make them a better alternative than EVs.
The future of driverless cars is arriving a lot faster than even legislators have anticipated. Many people know about the Google self-driving car and the hype that surrounded their project. However, what is not known is that many are predicting self-driving cars to be on the roadways in mass numbers by as little as 2020; only 4.5 years away. Many manufacturers are already implementing technology into cars to get drivers accustomed to these options. Tesla, Uber, Google, GM, Mercedes and BMW have all produced some version of a self-driving car or self-driving features.
However, Tesla is out-front on this technology with its ability to firmware upgrade its fleet of “already-sold” Model S’s with unique features that will allow a sort of “auto-pilot” feature on the vehicle within the next year. Most of the features included in the Model S and other cars debuting in 2015 and 2016 include semi-autonomous self-driving features. This means that the car can accelerate, brake or steer with limited or no driver interaction. This means traffic aware cruise control (TACC), FCW, LDW and parking assist features are already self-driving features.
Fully autonomous self-driving vehicles are expected to be debuted by many manufacturers as early as 2019. The Tesla Model S new autopilot features, currently in beta testing is said to include highway autosteer and parallel autopark to the list of self-driving features. Many of these technologies are considered advantageous and beneficial according to the NHTSA, making LDW, FCW and TACC recommended advanced technology features for new vehicles.
The best safety ratings for Green vehicles are the future of the auto industry and transportation on earth. From the currently top-rated 5-Star NHTSA hybrids to Tesla’s industry benchmarking safety options to the future of vehicle safety in hydrogen and driverless or self-driving cars, safety in driving should be your number one concern and choice in new vehicles.