BMW's new electric i3 fares poorly in crash test survey

BERLIN Wed Nov 27, 2013 8:59am EST

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BERLIN Nov 27 (Reuters) - BMW's new all-electric i3 car fared poorly in a crash test survey for its pedestrian protection.

The four-door i3 hatchback, premiered with much fanfare on three continents in July, scored only 21 out of 36 points in an New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) survey due to "aggressive" styling of front edge and marginal sections of its engine bonnet, German Automobile Association ADAC said in a statement on Wednesday.

"These are shortcomings, especially because the i3 was designed as a modern car for big cities," ADAC said. "Pedestrian protection should be of particularly high value."

BMW is placing high hopes on the 34,950-euro ($47,400) model which hit German dealerships earlier this month and has attracted about 10,000 pre-orders and 100,000 requests for test drives.

The results, while not overwhelmingly negative, could cause some concern and potentially put off future buyers.

The NCAP body conducts crash tests on behalf of its European government and consumer motoring organization members.

The i3 provides "good" occupant protection and its carbon fibre-based cockpit provides remained stable during the crash, ADAC said.

A BMW spokesman said the ADAC's findings disregard steps taken by the manufacturer to enhance protection of pedestrians, citing the i3's special brakes and sensors.

Munich-based BMW will study the test results before casting a final opinion, he said.

Analysts said the company spent at least 2 billion euros on developing the new "i" series, which BMW has trademarked through to a series number i9 - hinting at the scope of its electric plans. ($1 = 0.7374 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer, Additional reporting by Jan Schwartz, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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