Ford Motor Company announced today that an inflatable rear seat belt would make its European debut next year on the all-new Mondeo. The inflatable belt is designed to reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers. Ford said that often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries are in the rear seat. In the event of an accident, the belt rapidly expands to disperse crash forces across a body area five times greater than that achieved by a conventional seat belt.
Ford said that research showed more than 90% of those who tested the inflatable seatbelts found them to be similar to or more comfortable than a conventional belt because they feel padded and softer.
“Bringing together the attributes of an airbag and a seat belt is a significant development. This technology isn’t currently available in Europe,” said Joerg Doering, core engineering seatbelts engineer, Ford of Europe.
The technology was first offered on the 2011 Ford Explorer in the U.S. and proved immediately popular, with 40% of buyers choosing the option. Ford is in process of adding the inflatable belt to many vehicle lines.
As with an airbag, Ford’s inflatable rear seat belt deploys when crash sensors detect an accident. This forces compressed gas out of a cylinder housed below the rear seat, through the buckle and into the belt. The inflatable rear seat belt is fully deployed in less than 40 milliseconds. Unlike airbags, which generate heat when deploying, Ford’s inflatable rear seatbelt inflates using cold compressed gas.
General Motors will introduce the industry’s first front center airbag on the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse midsize crossovers during the 2013 model year. The inflatable restraint is designed to help protect drivers and front passengers during side impact crashes where the affected occupant is on the opposite, non-struck side of the vehicle.
This new airbag safety device – a world first – will be standard on Acadia and Traverse equipped with power seats and all Enclave models.