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Safe Supercar: Lexus LFA To Sport Inflatable Seat Belts

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On: Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 5:44PM | By: Chris Weiss

Safe Supercar: Lexus LFA To Sport Inflatable Seat Belts

Usually we look to supercars for huge engines, unbelievable top speeds, and sheer, tire-scorching performance. Not safety innovations or interior options. But buyers of the $375,000 Lexus LFA will find those latter qualities with their purchase. The Japanese luxury arm of Toyota will offer inflatable seat belts in its supercar beginning with the 2012 model year.

Takata Corp. the supplier of the inflatable "airbelts" announced that it will be providing its system for the 2012 LFA.

The manufacturer said in a statement: "The SRS Seat Belt Airbag being fitted to the Lexus LFA has an airbag built into the webbing of the seatbelt, which inflates on impact to provide additional protection to the shoulder and critical head area.The system is the first of its kind in the world for passenger cars."

The seat belts will be equipped to the passenger side of the LFA. They will offer protection from both frontal and side impacts. In frontal crashes, the airbelts will inflate to provide more surface area to handle the impact with the chest. On side impacts, the part of the belt between the head and the shoulder will inflate to provide protection from impact.

While you may need to spend hundreds of thousands to enjoy inflatable seat belt technology now, you can expect to see it on more pedestrian, everyday vehicles over the next couple of years. While it won't be the first to market with it, Ford was actually the first company to announce inflatable seat belt technology last November. The Dearborn automaker plans to offer the option of inflatable belts in the rear seats of the 2011 Explorer, but won't have them ready until late next year. That option is expected to run around $400. The rear seat installation will help to protect children and smaller, more vulnerable passengers.

The news that Lexus will be using inflatable seat belts indicates that we'll likely see the technology on less expensive Lexus models and eventually on Toyota models.

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