The Australasian New Car Assessment Program's European sister organisation, Euro NCAP, has completed its first-ever electric vehicle crash test this week, awarding the Mitsubishi i-MiEV a 4-Star safety rating.
Euro NCAP's 4-Star rating for the i-MiEV mirrors results achieved in tests undertaken by ANCAP and Japan NCAP last year, in which ANCAP chair Lauchlan McIntosh described the i-MiEV's 4-Star rating as a "good outcome."
Euro NCAP said the test criteria and procedure was similar to the requirements for conventional petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles, with special attention given to battery integrity after testing.
The tests are also designed to ensure that the battery cut-off switch - a requirement in all electric vehicles - functions properly during the crash, isolating the high-voltage battery from the rest of the vehicle.
According to Euro NCAP's test report, the i-MiEV's performance in a crash proved "creditable," with no electrical or fire hazards occuring during the test.
"We recognize the efforts done by Mitsubishi to demonstrate that plug-in battery powered cars can be as safe as others. It shows that a future 5-Star accolade for EVs is not unthinkable," Dr. Michiel van Ratinge, Euro NCAP's Secretary General said.
Powered by a 47kW/180Nm electric motor and fed by a 330-volt lithium-ion battery pack, the i-MiEV can travel up to a claimed 160km on a single charge.
Mitsubishi initially built just 2000 i-MiEV cars in 2009, growing by another 5000 this year.
There are currently a limited number of i-MiEV cars in Australia, all of them in the hands of select corporate and government customers taking part in a wide-reaching test programme.
By 2015, Mitsubishi expects to be producing 30,000 units each year, with a wider Australian availability to private buyers forming part of the company's local plans.