Ford is fitting rear inflatable safety belts in the 2014 Fusion (European equivalent is the Mondeo, due out in 2014), claiming a segment first.

The shoulder belt for outboard rear seats contains an airbag. During a crash, sensors determine if and when the inflatable belt should deploy and signal the inflator.

"The inflatable belt is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries," said a Ford safety engineer Srinivasan Sundararajan.

Ford pioneered inflatable rear safety belts with 2011 Explorer and has since added the feature to Flex and Taurus models plus the Lincoln MKT and MKZ. The Ford Mondeo for Europe and other markets including Australia will also have it when the model is launched in 2014.

Back in the US, Fusion sales in the first half of 2013 rose 17.8% year on year to 161,146 units.