|The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class: The newly developed gead/thorax bag – part of the standard equipment package for the A-Class – protects the front occupants’ head and chest areas in the event of a side impact|
Thanks to the sandwich concept, passengers in the A-Class sit around 200 millimetres higher than in a conventional saloon, and are therefore better protected in a side impact crash than are occupants of other vehicles in this class. This is because the greater height ensures that the impact occurs where the A-Class is most stable: at the side rail, which consists of extremely rigid, solid sheet-steel profiles.
Standard side airbags are another new feature in the new A-Class. The sidebags in the predecessor model were installed in the interior door panels. In the event of a crash, they inflated at chest level between the occupant and the door, thus preventing any contact between the two. For the new A-Class, however, Mercedes engineers developed head/thorax side airbags that protect the chest and head, thus offering double the protection of the previously used sidebags.
The head/thorax side airbags are located in the front seat backrests. They inflate within milliseconds after a side impact to form an asymmetric buffer with a volume of approximately 16 litres. When inflated, their upper edge extends further upwards than the sidebags they replace.
As such, the head/thorax side airbag reduces the risk of the head impacting against the window or against objects penetrating into the vehicle’s interior as a result of the crash. At the same time, the lower part of the new side airbag extends itself between the door and the occupant, creating a large-surface protective shield for the chest area.
Mercedes-Benz’ installation of head/thorax side airbags as standard equipment in the new A-Class comes in response to studies showing that side impacts are becoming increasingly dangerous for passenger car occupants. In fact, some 44 percent of these types of collisions end with one or more fatalities.
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