With GM’s recalls of defective ignition switches that rendered airbags useless and Takata’s global recall involving major automakers that seeks to address a flaw in the same crucial safety systems, there are also good news.
And they come courtesy of Ford, which decided to give a boost to the safety system, which has been plagued lately with bad news. Together with the introduction of the 2015 Ford Mustang, the No. 2 automaker will also deliver a first of its kind innovation… for the knee airbag.
Knee airbags haven’t hit mainstream global usage but they have been around for quite a while now, so Ford’s tech team decided a refresh of the technology is in order. Without revolutionary changes, the affected airbag is the one for the front passenger – which is now smaller and provides protection similar to the one offered to the driver. There is a new inflator, 75% smaller than the conventional ones and the inflatable plastic “bladder” is located in the glove box door area.
“We provide a high level of safety, quality and design for our customers and their passengers,” said Sean West, Ford restraints manager. “With this innovative airbag design, we have developed technology that provides protection for vehicle occupants while also reducing weight and enabling greater design flexibility.”
The new airbag “bladder” is not made form the conventional fabric, but it rather employs a new type of plastic – as the actual glove compartment door comes down together with the airbag, reducing the time and distance to travel to the passenger. Ford has already received 15 patents on the new system and it has even more filled, waiting for approval.