CAR Corporation and its parent Ford Motor Company say they are making progress
with their collaborative four-point seat belt project.

The Sweden-based development team is headed by Volvo’s senior safety engineer
Christer Gustafsson and Ford safety technical specialist David Wagner.

The advantages of a four-point seat belt are that they distribute the crash
forces over more of the chest which reduces the pressure on the rib cage, heart
and lungs.

They also help hold the occupant in place during crashes that put limitations
on today’s belt designs.

Two new styles are being evaluated: the ‘X4’ design and the ‘V4’
design. Both have the same objective yet with different and unique solutions.

The X4 system uses a standard three-point belt plus a single belt that comes
over the shoulder, down across the torso and attaches near the lap belt buckle.

The V4 is a modified design with its design roots in car racing.

The developers say that occupant fitting is as simple as putting on a backpack
-‘over the shoulder/over the shoulder and click’.

Both designs have shown to be effective in rollover and side impacts during
laboratory tests.

One major unknown about four-point belts is how users would accept them.

“During the Detroit International Auto Show we asked show attendees to
assess ease of use and comfort for both styles,” Wagner said.

“This was perhaps the first use of a motor show to conduct one-on-one
safety research. We were very eager to watch people’s reactions and discuss
their concerns. “Consumers were very excited about the prospects of additional
safety benefits from the four-point belt. We’re still weighing the advantages
of both designs.”

He added that a few engineering challenges remain, however, but did not elaborate.

“I believe we’ll have something in the next three years that meets the
expectations of our engineering teams and, of course, those of our customers,”
said Gustafsson.

“In the near future, we will be entering into discussions with regulatory
agencies around the world including the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) to discuss our findings and the regulatory implications
of four-point belts.”

To view related research reports, please follow the links

market for automotive seating: Forecasts to 2010

market for automotive seating: Forecasts to 2010 (download)