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Hyundai commits to centre airbag

New centre airbag from Hyundai helps to protect front-seat occupants from head clash

18 Sep 2019

HYUNDAI has committed to rolling out a newly developed centre airbag to minimise the chance of head clash between front seat occupants in a crash, particularly in a side impact.


Although such devices are not new – General Motors introduced such an airbag on some models including the GMC Acadia large SUV in North America in 2013 – the Hyundai airbag breaks new ground by employing tethers to hold it in place once deployed in the space between the front seats.


This helps the airbag to resist deformation as the occupants are forced against it, thus improving its integrity in a crash. Images of the airbag show that it protects both the shoulders and heads of front-seat occupants.


The Hyundai airbag is also compact and light, weighing about 500g less than competing airbags and fitting more easily into the side of the driver’s seat.


The South Korean company claims the airbag could reduce the chance of front-seat passengers colliding with each other by 80 per cent.


It says the airbag will also provide additional protection from a side impact in the opposite side of the vehicle when there is no passenger in the car.


Hyundai Motor Group crash safety system engineering design team research engineer Hyock In Kwon said the development of the centre side airbag went beyond adding an additional airbag.


“We will continue striving to further improve passenger safety by being ready for all kinds of accidents,” he said.


Although Hyundai did not say which of its models would be fitted with the airbag or when, it indicated that Europe could be in its sights.


“Upcoming Euro NCAP is expected to include side impact into its consideration beginning year 2020, and Hyundai Motor Group’s airbag is expected to work favourably in such evaluation,” it said in its press release.


When GM introduced its centre airbag in the US in 2013, it said US crash data gathered by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that so-called far-side (passenger side) impacts were responsible for 11 per cent of fatalities among front seat occupants wearing seat belts.


The problem with three-point seatbelts that are common to most cars is that they do not prevent occupants moving towards the centre of the car in a variety of crash situations, including side impacts and rollover.

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