20 years since Mercedes-Benz first offered airbags in its flagship S-class.

Engineers started developing airbags in 1966, although the idea of an air safety
cushion had been around since the early 1950s.

It took 15 years of work, at a cost of $US13 million, before Mercedes finally
put airbags into production.

Market Intelligence Set-


The company claims that other car makers declined to jointly develop the safety
device because of the complexity of the work.

A driver airbag was offered for the first time in 1981 as an optional extra
on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The new safety feature was displayed at that year’s
Geneva Motor Show and attracted a great deal of attention from rival makers.

However, Japan initially banned the import of airbag-equipped cars because
it classed the device as an explosive.

Mercedes-Benz introduced the front passenger airbag in 1987. By 1992 the company
had sold a million airbag-equipped cars and standardised the device on all models.

Front passenger airbags had also become standard on the S-class and development
work on side and ‘curtain’ window bags was well under way.

Two years later, front passenger airbags were standard on all models.

Front side airbags became standard in all Mercedes cars in 1997 and window
bags were introduced the following year.

The latest development is intelligent airbags, which inflate in stages depending
on the severity of the impact, now being introduced on many models.

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

market for airbags and seatbelts : Forecasts to 2010 (download)

Strategic Review (download)