Ford Offers Inflatable Seatbelts To Rivals Photo:
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Mike Stevens | Jun, 02 2014 | 5 Comments

Ford has confirmed it will extend an offer for rival carmakers to use its life-saving inflatable seatbelt technology, first revealed in 2009.

Already available in the overseas Explorer and Flex SUVs, the big F-150 and the new Australia-bound Mondeo, the system incorporates an airbag into the sash of the familiar three-point seatbelt.

The American company is currently one of only two carmakers to offer inflatable seatbelts, along with Mercedes-Benz which launched its own system with the new S-Class range.

Ford’s global technologies boss Bill Coughlin said this week that the company’s commitment to “democratising technology” is an important part of improving safety for all motorists.

“In this case, the wider adoption of inflatable safety belts has the potential to make travel safer and help mitigate passenger injuries, especially among children and the elderly,” Coughlin said.

Fitted to rear seats to protect against front or side impact, the seatbelt airbags inflate in 40 milliseconds, distributing the force across an area five times greater than a regular seatbelt.

Unlike regular airbags which use a heat-generating chemical reaction - and because of the unique shape and properties of seatbelts - the seatbelt airbags are inflated through a cold compressed gas system.

Because the seatbelt airbag does not need to fill an area as great as the distance between a body and the dash or steering wheel, the seatbelt airbags inflate slower and to a lower pressure than regular airbags.

Ford also hopes to see the technology adopted in other industries, including military vehicles, aircraft and even seafaring craft.

In Australia, inflatable seatbelts are already available with the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but shoppers in the volume-selling passenger car market can look forward to the 2015 Mondeo range offering Ford’s version.

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