The 2015 Mustang will feature a new design of an inflatable knee airbag, Ford announced June 20. Packaged inside the glove box, the new airbag provides protection comparable to its traditional counterparts, according to a release from Ford, but is 65% lighter and features an inflator that is 75% smaller, allowing for more room in the interior. The improved packaging allows for no visible seams or airbag cover.
Fifteen patents have been granted and more are pending. The initial application of the technology integrated an inflatable plastic bladder into the glove box door, providing similar protection to a traditional knee airbag mounted under the instrument panel (IP). More applications for the technology are being considered, which would allow for more placement and design options.
Ford engineers developed and tested new materials and construction techniques. The system features a pliable injection-molded, plastic bladder that is fitted between the inner and outer panels of the glove box door. When the crash sensor system identifies an applicable vehicle impact, an inflator fills the bladder, which extends the entire glove box door toward the passenger’s legs. The outer door provides cushioning during airbag deployment similar to that of a traditional knee airbag.
The airbag operates at a lower inflation pressure than a traditional airbag because the glove box door distributes the impact load over a larger area. The airbag extends straight out from the IP and travels a shorter distance than a conventional airbag.