IIHS: Small Electric Cars And Minitrucks Suck In Crashes

Illustration for article titled IIHS: Small Electric Cars And Minitrucks Suck In Crashes

Small vehicles like the GEM e2 and Tiger minitruck advertise low cost and efficiency, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety thinks they shouldn't share the road with regular vehicles. Here's the dramatic test footage to back up their point.

Many states allow vehicles like the Tiger minitruck and GEM e2 — often classified as neighborhood electric vehicles — on streets with speed limits under 35 MPH despite featuring little safety equipment beyond headlights, windshields and safety belts.


After crashing a Smart Fortwo into the GEM and a Ford Ranger into the Tiger minitruck, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined dummies in the low-speed vehicles experienced serious or fatal injuries while the drivers of the regular vehicles could have walked away. The video shows just how much of a threat drivers could face in such a crash, including having your head nearly blasted into the windshield of a Smart.

The IIHS acknowledges these types of vehicles serve their purpose in gated communities, college campuses, auto show floors or other places where the interaction with full-size vehicles is limited, but says the data shows they shouldn't be used on regular roads.

"Watch the test footage, and it's obvious how devastating the side crash is to the GEM," said chief IIHS researcher David Zuby. " It doesn't resist the crash forces at all. GEMs and other LSVs weren't designed to protect people in a crash with a microcar like the Smart Fortwo, let alone larger cars, SUVs, and pickups in everyday traffic."

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Kei cars, motorcycles, and '59 Bel Airs would do no better in crash tests with Smarts, Rangers, or anything else. Yet kei cars aren't wiping out the Japanese, bikers aren't an endangered species, and Alameda isn't a ghost town as a result of being full of classic cars. As for Japanese bikers living in Alameda, well, they don't have a prayer, do they?