New airbag in the 2013 Chevy Cruze will save lives and cost
Many people may not realize just how tough it is to design a front airbag for a passenger vehicle. The NHTSA (National Highways Traffic Safety Administration requires that the airbags be able to protect, but not harm, an occupant in the vehicle hitting an immovable barrier – without a seatbelt on, at two different speeds. Oh, and that same airbag, must also do both of those things for a sane driver who is belted. The airbag must also work for those short of stature, and also large. Currently, manufacturers achieve this using a complex array of sensors and a dual stage airbag that can inflate ate differing strengths depending upon the speed of the vehicle and other factors. Working with its supplier, GM has now developed a simpler, single stage, venting airbag that achieves the goals, but at a lower cost.
The 2013 Chevy Cruz will be the first vehicle to employ the new technology. Gay Kent, GM general director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness commented on the new technology in a recent GM press release saying “This new air bag technology is a smart way to manage crash forces, and is an integral part of Cruze’s continued success in safety testing. The latest safety rating reflects the confidence we have in its new and carry-over safety technologies and overall crashworthiness.” The Chevy Cruze is GM’s relatively new compact car. It competes with the Honda Civic.
General Motors worked with its supplier of safety systems, Takata, to develop this new technology. Takata was founded in Japan in 1933 and is an automotive specialist in restraint and airbag systems. GM and Takata also worked together to develop GM’s new airbag system that is between the front seats. That technology prevents injuries during side impacts by keeping the two front passengers from being violently thrown into one another. For a video on that technology please see this previous Torque News article.
GM is different from many automotive manufacturers in that it introduces new safety systems not at the top of its model line, as do so many car makers, but throughout the line of its cars and trucks.