Chevrolet Bolt EV An IIHS Top Safety Pick – Crash Test Videos

4 months ago by Jay Cole 55

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has been put through its paces (via several crash test procedures), and has come out with a IIHS Top Safety Pick award.

The Bolt turned in good reports in all five crashworthiness tests, and only fell short on one count: poor-rated headlights.

On that count, IIHS explains:

“They provide fair to good visibility but produce excessive glare for oncoming drivers.”

Full IIHS statement (and more crash videos) on the Chevy Bolt EV Safety award below:

IIHS Approves of the Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet Bolt earns IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK award

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Chevrolet Bolt is the first all-electric vehicle to earn a 2017 award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

…and thats an impact

The small car is new for the 2017 model year. Unlike the Chevrolet Volt, it has no back-up gas engine.

The Bolt earns good ratings in all five of the Institute’s crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. It also has an optional front crash prevention system that earns a superior rating. The car avoided collisions in IIHS track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, and the system has a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

To earn a TOP SAFETY PICK award, a vehicle must have good ratings in all five crashworthiness tests and an available front crash prevention system with a superior or advanced rating. Vehicles that meet those criteria and also have good or acceptable headlights earn TOP SAFETY PICK+.

The Bolt is available only with poor-rated headlights. They provide fair to good visibility but produce excessive glare for oncoming drivers.

Gallery (below):  Some IIHS follow-up photographic reporting (click to enlarge)

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55 responses to "Chevrolet Bolt EV An IIHS Top Safety Pick – Crash Test Videos"

  1. unlucky says:

    Anyone know how the IIHS determines excessive glare for oncoming drivers?

    Are they saying the headlight shutters aren’t load-leveling or what?

    1. taser54 says:

      IIHS headlight rating is subjective nonsense. Even Tesla gets a poor rating. All the top safety picks in the Bolt’s class for 2017 except for the civic receive poor ratings. Basically, if glare is deemed excessive, a car cannot receive anything but a poor rating.

      1. unlucky says:

        Just because Tesla doesn’t do well doesn’t automatically mean it’s subjective nonsense. That’s why I ask what the criteria are.

        As to why Tesla and Chevy do badly on this, unfortunately I strongly suspect it is just because testing has become a closed loops. The companies mostly just “study for the test”. When a car is designed they do the same tests the IIHS does and ensure it does well on the IIHS tests.

        And the headlight test is the newest IIHS test, it’s only a few months old. So the current cars in production were designed without knowing what the IIHS was going to test the headlights for (or even that they would be tested at all), so they had no chance to study for the test and thus don’t get consistently high grades.

        Now that car companies know their headlights are tested they will design the cars to do well on the IIHS tests and we’ll see all “A” grades on that test like all the others.

        It’s sad, but really safety comes second for the companies, getting “A” grades on the safety tests comes first.

        1. jelloslug says:

          Exactly. When the small overlap test came out almost no manufacturer was able to pass it. Cars that were top picks the previous year were suddenly shackled with a “poor” rating for the next test. I think it’s great that the IIHS makes the top pick a moving target. It keeps the manufacturers constantly improving.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            “Exactly. When the small overlap test came out almost no manufacturer was able to pass it. ”

            BS. Volvo XC90 aced it with a more than 10 years old frame/design.

            There are those who designed car to pass safety tests and there are those who design cars to be safe like Volvo.

            But I agree that Headlight “test” is kind of “fishy” to me as the criteria is kind of pulling out of thin air.

            Each and Every automakers have mixed results. Some are good and some are bad.

            Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is poor but Santa Fe is good. So, go figure…

            1. unlucky says:

              Did you miss the word “almost” in there? How does one SUV mean that a statement that almost no existing vehicle did well on that test is false?

      2. FISHEV says:

        Nope. IIHS tests are all objective, measurable. Not sure why people get so irrational as to make crazy claims when their favorite fails a test.

      1. unlucky says:

        Thanks for the link, but it doesn’t say anything about how glare is measured. It doesn’t say from what angle, height, whether differential loading of the car (a full trunk means higher aimed beams unless the headlights are self-leveling) is employed, etc.

        1. Kdawg says:

          From my link.

          “Glare for oncoming vehicles is also measured from low beams in each scenario. Engineers record the percentage by which it exceeds a set threshold.

          Headlights are tested as received from the dealer. Although many headlight problems could be resolved by adjusting the aim of the lamps, IIHS doesn’t change headlight aim. Few vehicle owners adjust the vertical aim of their headlights, so leaving the aim the way it was set at the factory makes the testing more realistic. Horizontal aim also is important, but in most vehicles it can’t be changed after the initial factory setting.

          Readings are taken 10 inches from the ground for visibility and 3 feet, 7 inches from the ground for glare.”

          1. unlucky says:

            I read your link. It references the “set threshold”. It doesn’t give the set threshold. It doesn’t say how the demerits are weighted. Is it 1, for 1, meaning you subtract 100% of the glare reading from the illumination reading? Or is it scaled back?

            And as to “re-aiming the headlights” I tried to explain that the headlights reaim themselves even if you don’t adjust them and they aren’t self-leveling. Your car changes its angle to the road based upon loading. Put a heavy person in the front and they aim downward. Put a big load in the back and they aim upward. IIHS says nothing about how they load the car, do they try different loadings?

            Furthermore, self-leveling (load-leveling) headlights try to adjust for the changes in car angle due to loading. These can make a car less glare-inducting when it has loads in the back. Is the IIHS complaining the Bolt doesn’t have this mechanism or it doesn’t work well?

            All in all I’m glad I live in the city because I know from past experience that tighter headlight patterns (as these tests will produce) make it harder to see deer and other animals on the edges of the road when your high beams aren’t on. I’ve never had a worse view of the ditches and forest verges on the side of the road than I have since projectors came into vogue.

            1. Kdawg says:

              You said “It doesn’t say from what angle, height”.. but they did give a height. They also say they measure the lux. No they don’t give the threshold value of the lux, but as long as they use the same threshold for all cars, that is fair.

              They also probably have the car set up in a lab, on level ground, with either the car empty or someone who fits within the 95th percentile for weight. The idea is to test for common scenarios, not outliers.

              1. unlucky says:

                They say they measure lux but don’t give a conversion to letter grade either. You’re right they say what distance they measure from, but that’s it.

                As to loading, do they test with the rear seats full or not? 4 people is not uncommon, are they testing that way? Or do they test both ways.

                They tell us almost nothing.

        2. SparkyPS says:

          http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/technical-information/technical-protocols

          You can get the details on how the headlight tests as well as other tests are performed by the IIHS at that link

          1. Kdawg says:

            Nice find.

  2. bro1999 says:

    OK, this should put to rest all the “the Bolt’s stubby front end makes it less safe in frontal collisions!” nonsense.

    Interesting that the headlights are rated poor….because they are TOO bright to other drivers, not because they are too dim for the Bolt’s driver.

    1. taser54 says:

      I thought the safety rating was focused on the car’s occupants not others.

      1. bro1999 says:

        The Gen 1 Volt’s headlights……plain SUCK. The first time after I got my Bolt and drove it around at night, then drove my Volt in the same conditions, I seriously thought the Volt’s headlights were off they were so dim. Had to do a double take.

        The Bolt even has auto-highbeams…I guess that’s not enough to get even a marginal rating.

        1. 2013VOLT says:

          Agree on the Gen 1 Volt headlights. They aren’t that great but I will take there simplicity and cheapness to repair over LED or Xenon complexities. It is odd the Gen 2 Volt uses LED headlamps but the Bolt EV uses obsolete Xenon headlamps.

          1. bro1999 says:

            The decision to give the Bolt HID lights was probably made by the bean counters to cut costs. Though had they known the Bolt would still score POOR in the IIHS headlight category, they may have gone with LEDs like they did with Volt 2.0. I bet the Bolt gets upgraded to LEDs in a future MY.

            1. unlucky says:

              There’s no reason LED would automatically improve or worsen spread. It just should give more even illumination.

              You can make HID and LED both give good illumination it’s just that it’s cheaper to get good illumination from LEDs. I cannot see why GM put HIDs on the Bolt except because a supplier who makes HIDs gave them a lowball bid because they wanted to keep their lines going.

          2. Sharkvolt says:

            You can call the Bolt Xenon headlights odd, I don’t!

            They are the first OEM headlights I have ever gotten that were excellent!

            I feel absolutely no need, whatsoever, to upgrade the Bolt headlights! They light up every area, including street signs, well enough to see at night. Chevrolet finally got them right! 🙂

        2. 2012volt says:

          My Gen 1 Volt headlights were adjusted very high from the factory. I could see great, but got flashed fairly often by oncoming drivers. The high beams were useless unless you were looking for birds in the trees. Had to turn the adjusters by 1.5 revolutions to point them lower. Haven’t been flashed since and the high beams are useful now.

      2. John says:

        “I thought the safety rating was focused on the car’s occupants not others.”

        Well…if you’re blinding oncoming traffic, they are a lot more likely to plow into you head on…

        just sayin

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          Really? So, you would drive straight into the bright spot? Sure, they might swerve and hit something else rather than you with the headlight but I would imagine most people would have avoided the bright light.

          What are you? a moth?

          1. Djoni says:

            If you encounter an upcoming vehicle with annoying beam glaring your view, there is a good chance you call them with your high beam.
            Since whit this car it’s the low beam that produce this, you might get flashing high beam all the way to your destination.
            That put the owner of such a car at risk.

            Don’t you think so?

          2. Nick says:

            Yep, hard to see during and after glare leads to small overlap crash.

    2. AustinAnthony says:

      Yes, the Bolt is less safe in a frontal collision with a short front end because the shorter the front end, the less distance the impact energy is “absorbed” before impacting the critical cabin space. All the frontal impact tests you see are measuring the cars weight against itself. Since this car is lighter in weight, it is easier to get the high rating, even with a short front end. In real world situations the majority of vehicles weight much more than the Bolt and thus have anywhere from 30% to 80% more energy that needs to be “absorbed” than what it was tested for. Hope that helps to better clarify why a short front-end is not preferred no matter what the frontal-collision tests report; these reports only matter if you hit a wall or a tree or another stationary object.

      1. unlucky says:

        When you’re looking to dump on an EV suddenly it is a very light car?

        As much as I wish the Bolt was very light, it is not.

        And you’re wrong about the idea that a short front end is insurmountably bad. It’s this same kind of foolish thinking that led some people to think that old 60s/70s cars must be safer in impacts just because they are bigger. And that was very, very wrong.

        1. AustinAnthony says:

          You have to go back to 1960’s era cars to try to prove your point about safety. I do not think they even had seat-belts in the cars back then. Let me help clarify. Let’s assume cars are designed using the latest engineering knowledge of vehicle safety. The longer the frond-end the larger distance the crash energy can be “absorbed” across. That is physics (kinetic energy). Does not matter your opinion or my opinion. If two cars are traveling at 60 mph and both brake and one take 200 feet to stop and the second one takes 100 feet to stop, the driver of the second car will experience a higher deceleration rate and thus a higher G-force. In a crash, the object is to decrease the G-force in the crash experienced by the occupants so to minimize/prevent injury. With all things being equal, a longer front-end is better than a short front-end with regard to a frontal impact collision. You can debate Newton if you do not accept my reasoning.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            3,580lb isn’t a light weight. It is lighter than full size SUV. But that is way ahead of many compact Crossover and midsize sedans out there. A quick search shows that it is more the best selling midsize sedan, Camry, it is more than the best selling compact Crossover CR-V. It is more than Chevy’s own midsize Malibu.

            1. AustinAnthony says:

              The car is “lighter” relative to the heavier full-size trucks and SUV’s driving on the American roads. I live in Texas so there are probably a higher proportion of full-size trucks and full-size SUV on the roads. Maybe someone reading this lives in Europe where most people drive compact cars so 3,500 lbs is a heavier car. My comment is based on vehicles on American roads and the high proportion of sales for vehicles above 5,000 lbs. in weight.

      2. theflew says:

        The Bolt isn’t light at all. It weighs about 500 pounds more than a Chevy Malibu (mid size car) and about 100 pounds less than a Chevy Impala (full size car).

        1. AustinAnthony says:

          Yes, and compared to a motorcycle it is much heavier. But lets compare to a full-sized truck or SUV, which tip the scale at 5,000 to 6,000 pounds. You probably know that the best selling vehicles in the country are full size pickup trucks and have been for decades. Ford F150 has been the #1 selling vehicle in the US for 35 years in a row. So overall, I consider the Bolt on the lighter side of vehicles on the road. It is my opinion based off some historical vehicle sales facts and their rated weights.

          1. ModernMarvelFan says:

            So, your straw man argument is that if it isn’t full size pickup truck or SUV based on it, it isn’t safe enough?

            Sure, every crash test has disclaimer that larger and heavier vehicles are generally safer. That is law of physics. But Bolt is heavier than some of the best selling compact SUV/Crossover and Midsize family sedans out there.

            F-150/Silverado/Ram does sell more. But Bolt is heavier than almost all the midsize family sedan and all the compact crossovers out there. Are those cars also less safe too?

            Maybe we should all get the latest JLTV by Oshkosh Defense as our “safe vehicle” for commute…

            1. AustinAnthony says:

              Yes, I am merely pointing out the laws of physics combined with the high volume of heavy cars on US roads. Unfortunately we do not choose which vehicle we are going to have a collision with. So, if safety is very important to you, don’t be fooled that a five-star rating is all that matters, the vehicle weight matters too. You can have a five-star rated compact weighing 3,000 lbs and a large 4-star rated SUV weighing in at 6,000 lbs. In a collision, which one do you want to be in?

  3. Nix says:

    Oh man. Not yet another story about an EV performing REALLY WELL in testing going off the rails as if there were a safety problem. This is good news.

  4. Eddie says:

    European hid must have autoleveling and washing. That is optional on US cars. All headlights and tail lights should be LED, stop Halogen production

  5. Tesla8 says:

    Why does IIHS choose to keep Tesla results in the dark and now talk about the Bolt which is only going to sell 30k a year?

    1. Viking79 says:

      Tesla Model S results are posted on IIHS

  6. Eddie says:

    DRL’s are European requirements vs US. Why do Mustang and corvette convertibles do not have pop up roll bars

  7. Leasehackr says:

    What’s interesting is that the supposedly test-machine-destroying roof of the Model S is weaker than the Bolt’s:

    Tesla Model S (October 2016 and newer)
    Overall evaluation GOOD
    Curb weight 4,452 lbs
    Peak force 19,271 lbs
    Strength-to-weight ratio 4.33

    Chevrolet Bolt (2017)
    Overall evaluation GOOD
    Curb weight 3,493 lbs
    Peak force 20,042 lbs
    Strength-to-weight ratio 5.74

    Both its relative and absolute roof strength of the Bolt is greater than with Model S.

    1. Elooney Muskey says:

      LOL! But uncle Elon said, Model S broke the roof testing machine!

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        That was one of the dumbest “spin” done by Elon and its fan ever.

        Yes, the machine broke during the testing. But that was a correlation, not a causation.

        1. unlucky says:

          And the machine that broke was Tesla’s, not the IIHS’s. Tesla used a machine which was insufficient to test their car and then bragged when it broke as being some kind of huge positive.

    2. AustinAnthony says:

      You seem to be able to compile data, now the important part is determining what it means.
      I am interested to know which vehicle you want to be in when you and an SUV collide head on or head-on off-center, Tesla Model S or Chevy Bolt?

      1. ModernMarvelFan says:

        “I am interested to know which vehicle you want to be in when you and an SUV collide head on or head-on off-center, Tesla Model S or Chevy Bolt?”

        that is only one aspect. I would say neither since we all knew how that Tesla Model S did against a Chevy Tahoe. In case, you didn’t know, it got crushed by the Tahoe.

        Now, back to the test and data. The roof strength shows that in the case of roll over, the occupants of the Bolt is more likely to be safe than Tesla.

        Also, when a heavy tree branch fall on the roof of the car, the roof of the Bolt is more likely to stand up than the Tesla.

        1. AustinAnthony says:

          The crash tests do not test how much damage to the car occurs, they measure the likelihood of injury to the passengers. The cars are “totaled” in a major collision anyway. Everyone should want their car to take as much of the impact energy of the collision as possible.

          Heavy branch, really? surprised you left out falling meteorite. By the way, a rollover in a Tesla is much harder to achieve as opposed to the Bolt, so it is good that the Bolt has a slightly stronger roof since it is more likely to roll over.

  8. FISHEV says:

    Bolt beats the Tesla S which did poorly in the small overlap head on crash.

    1. AustinAnthony says:

      There is no test data to suggest the Bolt beating the Tesla Model S in the small-overlap head-on crash since each is tested against its own weight. That is kind of like saying that since 150 lb. guy can do 20 pull-ups and the 200 lb. guy can only do 15 pull ups, the 150 lb guy is stronger. No data suggest that either is stronger, but if I was a betting man and they arm-wrestled, I would definitely bet on the 200 lb guy. Hopefully I illustrated why you can not compare the collision test-data ratings from cars of significantly different weights.

      1. Djoni says:

        And you might lose your bet.

        Never estimate strength only by weight.
        Neither safety, for that matter.

        It count, but it’s not the only thing.
        Just watch sport, small guy do sometime perform better than their tallest, heaviest counterpart.

      2. SparkyPS says:

        Thanks for your continued comparison of $90k cars against $40k cars.

        I’m pretty confident that the Tesla S is faster, stronger, more powerful and safer.

        But I still won’t be purchasing one because, well because it costs $90k and that’s not anywhere near what I want to spend on a car. Even if it is safer.

        1. AustinAnthony says:

          My response was only directed at the comment of FISHEV who said the following the “Bolt beats the Tesla S which did poorly in the small overlap head on crash.” By the way, you can buy a Model S for around $40k, go on the Tesla website and look over the used cars they are selling still with factory warranties. I would prefer a used Model S over a new Bolt any day.

  9. Hans Hammermill says:

    IIHS report is slightly misleading; ‘Front crash prevention’ functionality is only available on the Premiere trim.

    It is not available in any of the packages on the LT trim:

    http://www.chevrolet.com/content/dam/chevrolet/na/us/english/index/shopping-tools/download-catalog/02-pdf/2017-chevrolet-bolt-ev-catalog.pdf

    1. unlucky says:

      It’s not misleading. The report says the feature is optional.

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