What’s Hiding In The New Mustang’s Glove Box? A World-First Airbag That Protects Knees, Saves Space

  • An innovative knee airbag design for the all-new Ford Mustang means more room for front seat passengers
  • Ford is first carmaker to integrate within the glove box door a special plastic airbag that replaces separate knee airbag
  • The company is now actively testing future uses of the weight-saving technology that employs a plastic bladder rather than a textile fabric, and has so far been granted 23 patents

Airbags are credited with saving tens of thousands of lives since first being introduced more than 35 years ago*. They also are a key consideration for the designers who incorporate them into the cars we drive.

The all-new Ford Mustang is the first vehicle equipped with a new kind of knee airbag that is integrated within the door of the glove box, instead of the instrument panel, so passengers get maximum room to stretch out. Rather than a textile fabric airbag, the technology consists of an innovative moulded plastic design, sandwiched between the outer and inner glove box door surfaces.

Just 46 centimetres long and 28 centimetres wide, the glove box airbag weighs 65 per cent less than a conventional knee airbag and yet offers comparable protection. In the event of a collision, a tiny gas generator inside the glove box door inflates the bladder in just 20 milliseconds, pushing the door 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. “It was worth it. 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,” West added.

Altogether the all-new Ford Mustang is equipped with eight airbags as standard and has been awarded the highest-possible safety standard by North American authorities. Available as a fastback and convertible, the iconic American car is on sale across Europe for the first time in more than 50 years of production.

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