Volkswagen ID.4 Garners Highest Safety Score

The 2021 VW ID.4 electric SUV was named a 2021 Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for its performance in the organization's battery of crash tests. (IIHS)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced that the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV earned the highest-possible rating—Top Safety Pick+—for its performance in the organization's battery of crash tests.

The vehicle's performance means that all trim levels of the small ID.4 SUV scored highly in all six of the Institute's crash-test criteria: driver and passenger small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, head restraint, and roof strength. Further, its vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash-prevention systems scored Superior (best) or Advanced (second-best) ratings, and it received Good (best) or Acceptable (second-best) results on its headlight performance.

Volkswagen's MEB architecture, which underpins the VW ID.4, will also serve as the basis for their upcoming electric vehicles (EVs), meaning that its frontal crash structures, floor structures, and motor mountings will be similar. It bodes well for crash safety performance for future electric vehicles from VW and Audi.

Earlier this year, the IIHS started testing some of the more popular EV models on the market. The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E received a Top Safety Pick rating, while the Audi E-tron, Tesla Model 3, and Volvo XC40 Recharge all earned Top Safety Pick+ designations.

In April, the IIHS stated that the EVs they tested were proving to be as safe as gas-powered cars. It cited a Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) report that found crashes involving EVs have 40 percent lower injury claims than identical versions powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE).

Electric vehicles, with their large batteries, tend to be heavier than ICE vehicles. The statement cites the example of the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge, which weighs 4,787 pounds, compared to the non-electric XC40 that weighs 3,811 pounds. The IIHS has found that bigger, heavier vehicles provide superior safety for their passengers than smaller, lighter cars. The greater weight will push a more lightweight car back, resulting in less force transferred to passengers of the heavier car.

Previous concerns about gas-guzzling heavy vehicles become obsolete with EVs, which produce zero tailpipe emissions. "We can now say with confidence that making the U.S. fleet more environmentally friendly doesn't require any compromises in terms of safety," said IIHS President David Harkey.

Still unresolved is the effect of heavier vehicles causing more wear and tear on roads. Highway maintenance is often paid with gasoline taxes—a fund that will shrink as consumers purchase more electric cars.