BMW is breaking new ground with its i3 city car, but European crash test results might be a sign of problems to come.
The car failed to score a full five-star rating, instead earning four. Euro NCAP found that during severe side pole impact crashes, chest protection was weak. Front seat head rests returned “marginal protection” against whiplash.
But those aren’t items gauged in tests conducted by the two major U.S. crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Side impact crash tests reported in the U.S. are more akin to the “side barrier test,” in which the i3 scored top marks.
Even still, it raises questions about whether or not the i3 will offer adequate crash protection once it runs the gamut of tests here. Its sale represents the first time a mass-produced car has used a carbon fiber monocoque chassis. As an especially lightweight and stiff material, it might be easy to assume that a carbon fiber monocoque would offer sound protection in a crash. While the results aren’t overwhelmingly negative, the “weak” point could be cause for alarm. For example, the Scion iQ – sold in Europe as a Toyota – fared much better in the same tests.
It’s hard to imagine that the i3 will score poorly in current U.S. safety tests, but the European results still point to an important issue that could easily affect drivers here.
GALLERY: 2014 BMW i3
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