Airbags for the rear?

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The Mercedes S-Class limousines are scheduled to have inflatable rear-seat ‘beltbags’ in the 2013 models.  Mercedes has confirmed it will put its innovative inflatable “belt-bag” into production in a high-end luxury model, thought to be the new-generation 2013 S-Class.

Since it is difficult, to the point of impossibility to have an air-bag in front of the rear passengers, Mercedes has developed the “belt-bag”.  This is worn like a normal seatbelt, but expands to three times its normal width when triggered by crash sensors in the front of the vehicle, which would deploy the airbags in the front.

Your Benz awaits, Sir. Your Benz awaits, Sir.

The wider surface area of the inflated belt helps to reduce the unit loading to the body from the straps by spreading the load and thus reducing chest and collar bone deformation in a severe crash.

The belts are inflated in the same way as an airbag, with an explosive “gas generator” mounted at the top end of the belt, and will be used in conjunction with Mercedes’ active seatbelt buckle that retracts into the seat to reduce the risk of pelvic injury.

The seatbelts in the rear seats of Mercedes cars are already equipped with pre-tensioners and force limiters – features that are usually only found in front seats in most other cars.

It would appear, reading between the lines, that China will get the rear belt-bags first as their press release indicates that the belt-bag was developed with a particular view toward new markets, where the occupancy rate in the rear is as much as 30 percent, making it much higher than in Europe.”

The Chinese statistics would show that in developing markets such as China, there is very high back-seat usage in chauffeur-driven limos and where Mercedes-Benz sells 60 percent of its vehicles.