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.
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