GM’s New Advanced Air Bags Bolster Top Safety Picks
Tue, Jan 29 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – General Motors continues to make advances in passive safety technology with the introduction of two new industry-first air bags on four of its best-selling 2013 cars and crossovers.
The 2013 GMC Acadia and 2013 Chevrolet Traverse equipped with power seats and all 2013 Buick Enclave midsize crossovers come with GM’s front center air bag. Developed in collaboration with safety restraint supplier Takata, this air bag is designed to help provide an energy-absorbing cushion between drivers and front passengers in side impact crashes and rollover events, as well as added protection to the driver in far-side impacts.
Acadia, Traverse and Enclave are among the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s 2013 Top Safety Picks.
“The front center air bag is not required by federal regulation, and no other air bag in passenger vehicles today offers the type of restraint and cushioning this air bag is designed to provide for front occupants,” said Scott Thomas, senior staff engineer in GM’s advanced restraint systems.
Far side impacts, where the vehicle is impacted on the passenger side of the vehicle, were studied by GM through an analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System database. GM found that far-side impact crashes, which the front center airbag primarily addresses, accounted for 11 percent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover impacts between 2004 and 2009 involving 1999 model year or newer vehicles. Far-side fatalities also represented 29 percent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.
“The front center airbag has real potential to save lives in side crashes,” said IIHS President Adrian Lund. “GM and Takata are to be commended for taking the lead in this important area.”
Another industry-first air bag co-developed by GM and Takata debuted this year on the 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, also an IIHS 2013 Top Safety Pick. The flexible venting driver air bag on the Cruze is designed to effectively use the inflator output and the characteristics of the vent to manage the ride down of the occupant and help reduce the risk of inflation-induced injuries by allowing the occupant’s forward momentum to effectively push the gas from the inflated bag out and away.
Unlike more complex dual-stage air bags that use one inflator for low-speed crashes and another for high-speed crashes, the Cruze’s new single-stage “smart air bag” uses one lower output inflator to manage both low-speed and high-speed crash forces. GM testing shows the single-stage driver air bag provides excellent cushioning for drivers of varied sizes in both low-speed and high-speed crash events.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently tested the 2013 Cruze with the new air bag technology under its New Car Assessment Program. The Cruze received NHTSA’s maximum 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, the same vehicle rating it received in 2011 and 2012 when the small car used a dual-stage driver air bag system.
“These new air bag technologies provide smart ways to manage crash forces, and are an integral part of Cruze’s continued success in safety testing and real world performance,” said Gay Kent, GM general director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness. “The latest safety rating reflects the confidence we have in its new and carry-over safety technologies and overall crashworthiness.”
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM, TSX: GMM) and its partners produce vehicles in 30 countries, and the company has leadership positions in the world's largest and fastest-growing automotive markets. GM’s brands include Chevrolet and Cadillac, as well as Baojun, Buick, GMC, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety, security and information services, can be found at http://www.gm.com.