FRANKFURT -- BMW's electric i3 has scored four out of a possible five stars in a EuroNCAP safety test after faring poorly in the pedestrian protection and safety assistance systems categories.
The four-door i3 hatchback is the first model from BMW's i subbrand and the first mass-market car made largely from carbon fiber. BMW premiered the i3 on three continents in July before starting German sales of the car on Nov. 16.
EuroNCAP said the i3 scored just 57 percent in the pedestrian safety test due to a "poor" front edge to the hood and disappointing results recorded at the base of the windshield and along the "stiff" windshield pillars.
"These are shortcomings, especially because the i3 was designed as a modern car for big cities," the German motoring organization ADAC said. "Pedestrian protection should be of particularly high value."
In the safety assistance systems test, the i3 scored 55 percent, with EuroNCAP noting that the i3 met test requirements by offering electronic stability control as standard equipment, but lacked seat belt reminders in the rear of the car. The organization said a system designed to control the car's speed was not expected to reach EuroNCAP's minimum fitment rate to qualify for assessment.
BMW is placing high hopes on the 34,950 euro model, which has attracted more than 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.
A BMW spokesman said the findings disregard steps taken by the manufacturer to enhance protection of pedestrians, citing the i3's special brakes and sensors.
BMW will study the test results before casting a final opinion, the spokesman added.
Analysts estimate BMW has spent at least 2 billion euros on developing the i subbrand, which BMW has trademarked through to a series number i9 -- hinting at the scope of its electric plans. The next model from the i subbrand is the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, which is due to launch next spring.
In the remaining two EuroNCAP test categories, the i3 scored 86 percent for adult occupant safety and 81 percent for child occupant safety.
The i3 received praise from the safety organization for its performance in the side barrier test, with the i3 scoring maximum points with good protection of all body regions.
EuroNCAP is backed by seven European governments as well as motoring and consumer organizations in every European country. It organizes crash tests and provides consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the safety performance of cars sold in Europe.
Reuters contributed to this report