Blog: Glenn BrooksAirbag seat-belts the next big thing for China's chauffeured class

Glenn Brooks | 20 July 2012

Mercedes-Benz' Beltbag, an inflatable rear seat-belt strap, will soon be launched in a luxury model, the company says.
'New markets' are a particular target, Mercedes adds, in a brief statement on the forthcoming safety system. Translation: the next S-Class is imminent, its main market will be China and the typical customer there is chauffeured.
Beltbag has been under development for some time and was first highlighted by the company as part of the high-tech systems in 2009's ESF (Experimental Safety Vehicle). The belts are claimed to reduce the risk of injury to rear-seat passengers during a head-on collision.
As customers in these so-called new markets which Mercedes-Benz mentions spend as much as 30% more time travelling in the rear of their cars than the average European owner, it makes sense to target them.
The inflatable belts are triggered by the collision sensors in the car's front bumper. A gas generator immediately inflates the rear belts' multi-layered Velcro sash-strap seams to nearly three times their normal width. This larger surface area is reportedly able to better distribute the force acting on the seat occupant, which in turn reduces the risk of injury, particularly across the ribcage.
There are no plans to introduce the Beltbag for the front occupants of Mercedes-Benz's models, as existing SRS airbags are more than capable of reducing the same kinds of injuries as the new system should do for rear-seat passengers.


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