The all-new Ford Mustang is the first vehicle to be equipped with a new type of knee airbag that is integrated within the lid of the glove box, instead of the instrument panel, preserving maximum passenger space. Rather than a textile fabric airbag, the technology consists of an innovative moulded plastic design, sandwiched between the outer and inner glove box lid surfaces. Just 46cm long and 28cm wide, the glove box airbag weighs 65 per cent less than a conventional knee airbag but offers comparable protection.
In the event of a collision, a tiny gas generator inside the glove box lid inflates the bladder in just 20 milliseconds, pushing the lid exterior outwards to provide leg protection. Weight reduction improves fuel efficiency and the innovation has so far been granted 23 patents.
“This is a new way of thinking about airbags. We went back to the drawing board and in the course of a year went through hundreds of prototypes to get it just right,” said Ford restraints manager Sean West. “With this design we were able to combine the functions of two separate parts into one single part to save on space, weight and components; and move the instrument panel further forward, ensuring there was more room for the front passenger. Our glove box airbag opens up a whole new world of possibilities for injection-moulded plastic airbags. The glove box airbag could be just the beginning”.