Mercedes-Benz can be credited with more technological firsts in the automotive industry than perhaps any other company, but it cannot lay claim to being the first automaker to offer a seatbelt airbag. Nor can it claim to be the second. Those two spots go to the Ford Explorer and Lexus LFA, both of which came out with seatbelt airbags in 2010.

Nevertheless, Mercedes isn't the sort of company to let the glory of being first get in the way of doing something worthwhile, and so its new Beltbag system for rear seat occupants will be coming to a luxury car near you soon. Our best guess is that the inflatable straps will debut on the redesigned S-Class that bows in the first half of next year, and then quickly proliferate throughout the brand's lineup.

Like the Ford system, Mercedes' Beltbag system is relegated to rear seats only and powered by charged gas that inflates the strap to nearly three times its normal width, thus increasing the surface area across which to distribute the impact forces of a crash. Unlike the Ford system, Mercedes says only a frontal impact will trigger its belts to inflate, whereas the Explorer's inflatable bags are triggered by both frontal and side impacts.
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Stuttgart. The Beltbag, one of the highlights from the ESF 2009 Experimental Safety Vehicle, is due to go into production in a luxury-class model from Mercedes-Benz. The inflatable seat-belt strap is able to reduce the risk of injury to passengers in the rear in a head-on collision by lessening the strain placed on the ribcage.

Should the crash sensors detect a severe frontal impact, the airbag control unit will trigger deployment and inflation of the Beltbag. A gas generator then inflates the multi-layered belt strap with Velcro seams to nearly three times its normal width. The resulting larger surface area is able to better distribute the force acting on the seat occupant, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
The Beltbag can be used in exactly the same way as a conventional seat belt. The belt strap's design is different from that of the standard belt though, and received top marks in practical trials for being extremely comfortable to wear and for its extra-soft belt strap edge.

"Mercedes-Benz is pursuing its safety initiative in the rear of vehicles with the Beltbag," comments Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rodolfo Schöneburg, Head of Passive Safety and Vehicle Functions at Mercedes-Benz Cars. "After all, the excellent standard of safety offered by Mercedes-Benz doesn't just apply to all model series, but to all seats, too."

Just like the active seat-belt buckle recently presented by Mercedes-Benz that is likewise earmarked for inclusion in a luxury model, the Beltbag was developed with a particular view toward new markets. There, the occupancy rate in the rear is as much as 30 percent, making it much higher than in Europe. By introducing the Beltbag, Mercedes-Benz is further expanding the safety system for passengers in the rear – in contrast to many other manufacturers, seat belts in the second row of Mercedes-Benz models already come equipped with belt tensioners and belt force limiters. It is not planned to introduce the Beltbag for the front occupants, as airbags are already included in the front on all models as a supplementary restraint system.

Because dummy measurement technology is not capable of quantifying the benefits resulting from a wider belt strap, such as the lower force exerted on occupants, the safety experts at Mercedes have also been working intensely with virtual human models, as such computer-generated models make it possible to obtain detailed findings on the biomechanical strain during a collision.


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  • 55 Comments
      Jorge Duran
      • 2 Years Ago
      Pretty soon automakers will just sell balloons with engines strapped to them.
      dukeisduke
      • 2 Years Ago
      So your five-year-old car can be in a fender bender, and then have to be totaled, because replacing all the one-shot-and-it's-done safety equipment costs too much to replace? Winner!
      Nipper
      • 2 Years Ago
      Passenger saftey should not be an option, but standard in all makes of autos, no matter what the device.
      MyerShift
      • 2 Years Ago
      All this safety crap is nice to have but laughable because clearly no one anywhere survived an automobile at any point in time.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      These seat belts will be really helpful when your brand new Mercedes stalls on the highway and you get hit by the car behind you.
      Jeffrey S. Grant
      • 2 Years Ago
      Virgin Atlantic has had seatbelt airbags for many years. I wondered when they would make their way to the automobile industry.
      ray allen
      • 2 Years Ago
      Didn't Volkswagon experiment with an inflatable seatbelt similar to this a number of years ago?
      Ducman69
      • 2 Years Ago
      Come on now, how many airbags is finally going to be enough? We already have front, passenger, front side, back side, and overhead curtain... all this stuff costs money and adds weight. And we wonder why vehicles now are so much heavier despite advances in computer modeling and better materials.
        merlot066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Pick the part of your body which you would like to be injured in a car accident... I'm sure you can take the corresponding airbag out and sell it for a couple hundred bucks on ebay.
          Ducman69
          • 2 Years Ago
          @merlot066
          And get sued out of your house because you intentionally tampered with safety equipment. Meanwhile, here is your fire retardant suit, racing helmet, neck brace, and five point seat belt Herr Safety-Nazi Uber-Kommandant.
          merlot066
          • 2 Years Ago
          @merlot066
          I didn't say that they should stuff as many airbags in cars as possible, but in my DD I'm happy with the 6 airbags that are there to protect me. A 7th knee airbag and inflatable seatbelts in the second row make good sense too.
        codifex maximus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ducman69
        Why not just follow at a safe distance?
      BIG DICK
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is already available on the 2013 Lincoln mkT at my local Lincoln dealer. BUY AMERICAN
      jfsavo
      • 2 Years Ago
      LOL what did we all do before all of this trash was put on a vehicle? We learned how to drive safely. The cars were heavier so they didn't flip as easily, they were made of steel so they didn't crush easily. We rode in the back window, arm rests and stood up on the seats. There were no car seats, seat belts, safety latches on the doors and windows went all of the way down. The speed limits were 75 and 85 depending on the state you were in. We had to pass a real driving test. If you couldn't parallel park that boat, you didn't get your license. If you hit a cone, you were out. Today, because of an accident (not my fault & wearing a seat belt) I have to carry a letter from my state that says I am exempt from wearing a seat belt. They do a lot of damage to some of us. A friend of mine was killed because of a seat belt. Another friend of mine was not killed because he was not wearing a seat belt. It goes both ways folks. 3 examples of why not to wear a seat belt/
        petersonentvt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jfsavo
        I agree seat belts should be a personal choice not mandatory. I know of a 10 year old boy that wouldnt be dead now if he wasnt killed by his seat belt crushing his internal organs. The seat in front of him would most likely have saved him but the seat belt crushed his bowels. He was talking when he was brought into the emergency room but a few hours later he was dead from the seat belt damage.
          2012 ZR1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @petersonentvt
          Thanks for nothing, Rush Limbaugh!!
        desinerd1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jfsavo
        Here's the thing about lying - if you lie, at least make it a little believable.
          petersonentvt
          • 2 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          You clearly havent looked into accident reports and yes sometimes seatbelts do kill people that otherwise would have survived. Yes people die because they didnt have the seat belt on but sometimes people live because they didnt have it on.
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jfsavo
        @jfsavo Congratulations on surviving so far. The sad fact is that many people weren't so lucky. In 1966, over 50,000 people died in traffic accidents in the US, when the total population was only 196 million. in 2010, when the total US population was over 308 million (a 57% increase), only 32,885 people died on the road. That is still way too many, but it is a drastic decrease from the pace 50 years ago.
        connie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jfsavo
        I know there have been instances like the ones you describe - that is true. However, those are the exception and not the rule. In almost all cases, you are safer coming out of an accident if you are wearing your seatbelt. Comments like your put others in jeopardy b/c they go "See, I could be killed from wearing my seatbelt!" ... The examples you sited are few and far between. Would you let a child roam freely in a car? I pray not.
          druhbarnes
          • 2 Years Ago
          @connie
          Not in the cars they build today, but in the '60s it was ok because of the STEEL used to construct them. As a child, I was in several accidents and NO ONE was injured. And no one was strapped in.
        BLONDIE & GRUMPY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jfsavo
        Yes, and we had to take Drivers Education Class or not graduate from High School or get a Drivers License; where I live now; no drivers education and the Insurance Rates are thru the roof... and its like driving in Mexico City...
      blkpantha
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ford likes to take people technology and act like they invented it ...the did it with the automatic parking that Lexus invented and now the foot swipe tail gate technology that MB invented... They show these things in their commercials like they invented it and **** .... Love Ford tho they invented cars all together so I have them to thank for my love an passion :-)
        merlot066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @blkpantha
        Ford doesn't act like they invented automatic parking. They took Lexus' slow, unreliable, confusing system and made a radar-based system that was 10 times better. They also offer the system on Ford models whereas Lexus' system never trickled down to Toyota because nobody liked it. Ford didn't invent the foot swipe tailgate but as far as I know Mercedes doesn't offer a model that features that in America and either way it is great that Ford includes it on a mainstream Ford product. Just like automobiles in the early 1900s, Ford didn't invent the automobile, but they perfected a way of making cars better and available on a large scale.
        frost54661
        • 2 Years Ago
        @blkpantha
        Ford did not invent the car. Try using Google for once.
          codifex maximus
          • 2 Years Ago
          @frost54661
          Yeah, i don't think Mercedes actually invented the car but they did have one of the first production models and popularized the motorcar. Ford just introduced assembly line methods to motorcar production.
      glalli2
      • 2 Years Ago
      back in the day when car co. built cars 18 feet long you did not need a seat belt to walk away from a crash they built them out of steel and iron and not plastic and silly puddy.
        Diane
        • 2 Years Ago
        @glalli2
        Mercedes E and S classes are still built like tanks. Don't know about the C class.
          metusmetu
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Diane
          Speaking of tanks, you should have taken a ride in my '63 Chrysler Imperial Lebaron I used to own (and now wish I still had). Unfortunately I was in an accident in it, the other car was totaled, my LeBaron suffered a slight dent to the right front fender.
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