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Ford Introduces Contoured Air Bags in 2012 Focus

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On: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 4:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Introduces Contoured Air Bags in 2012 Focus

There's a face in my air bag! Ford's new contoured air bags remind me a little bit of looking at an evil, large-brained Michelin Man, but they serve a righteous cause: mitigating the possibility of injury in an accident. Continuing its commitment toward innovation in safety, Ford announced its new and improved front and side air bag technology last week.

The contoured section of the new driver-side air bag is designed to limit impact of the chest and ribs in the event of a crash. A tether system creates the depression that you see above and helps to make for a less harmful impact.

On the passenger side, the side air bags feature newly implemented vents that can decrease the pressure for smaller occupants. The vents are placed toward the top of the air bag, meaning that larger passengers will cover them up and get the support of a fully pressurized bag, whereas smaller occupants will hit the air bags below the vents causing air to be diverted out. The lower pressurization is designed to provide less impact for smaller passengers.

The frontal passenger-side air bags also deploy differently based upon the size of the occupant. Instead of vents, these air bags use sensors to determine the size of the passenger and deploy accordingly.

Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering told the Detroit News: "This is Ford's most advanced air bag system we've ever equipped a car with, and it is designed to help protect occupants even better in the most common types of crashes. Each of these air bags uses innovative technologies to help better customize air bag protection to the occupant."
The new technology will debut on the 2012 Ford Focus, which will hit the market next year.
In addition to the redesigned air bags, the new Focus will benefit from a stiffened steel frame. According to news reports, 55 percent of the Focus' body shell will be crafted from high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel.
Last year, Ford introduced another interesting safety technology: inflatable seat belts. These belts debuted on the 2011 Ford Explorer, which was introduced in July. A functional combination of air bags and seat belts, the industry-first inflatable belts fill with compressed gas upon accident and better keep the occupants in place.
These new technologies will likely spread across Ford vehicles as it continually updates its lineup.

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