With Mercedes-Benz rapidly expanding into new markets like China where more and more passengers are riding in the back seat, the company sought to draw a new focus on rear-occupant safety. In the process, it’s created the Beltbag, the automaker’s first inflatable seatbelt.
Likely to debut in the redesigned 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class full-size luxury sedan before trickling down to other models, the Beltbag uses a built-in gas generator that can expand its width by three-fold, distributing forces exerted in a collision to lessen the odds of injuries occurring. Its edges are softer than those of a traditional seatbelt. And it’s designed to complement the fact that Mercedes-Benz already uses seatbelt pretensioners in its rear seatbelt housings as well as belt-force limiters.
“With the Beltbag, Mercedes-Benz is driving forward its rear-seat safety offensive,” says Dr. Rodolfo Schoenberg in a statement, the head of the automaker’s passive safety department. “The excellent safety standards of Mercedes-Benz apply not only to all model lines, but to all seating positions, too.”
Mercedes-Benz has not yet announced which vehicle would be the first recipient of the Beltbag, but it is assumed the flagship S-Class would get it because of the the model’s precedent for receiving new technology first. It’s also widely known that the S-Class is also the next in line for a redesign, making it a logical choice.
Recently, Ford began implementing seatbelt-mounted airbags in its 2012 Explorer, but Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to show off the technology in its 2009 ESF (Experimental Sicherheits Fahrzeug, or Experimental Safety Vehicle) concept based on the current-model S400 Hybrid. Mercedes-Benz says rear-seat occupancy is up 30 percent in developing markets, which makes debuting such technology ideal.
Now all we have to do is wait and see what all the next S-Class will have in it as its features begin making their debut.