World Safety Premiere: Airbag in the S-Class (W 126)
In 1981, at the International Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz presented a sensational passive safety innovation in an S-Class car from the W 126 series: the airbag. As of summer 1981, the protective airbag was optionally available for the top-of-the-line model of Mercedes-Benz.
Protection within milliseconds: the airbag has brought about a vast improvement in occupant safety in the event of a frontal impact. Since 1990, it has saved over 2500 lives in Germany alone.
Together with the seat belt, which by then was combined with an innovative belt tensioner in the S-Class, the airbag protects the driver in an accident by cushioning the impact against the steering wheel. To achieve this, a sensor triggers an explosive charge within just 40 milliseconds of an accident occurring, thus inflating the protective air cushion in such a precisely controlled manner as to achieve maximum protective effect when the upper body comes into contact with the airbag. The airbag is regarded as an additional safety system (Supplementary Restraint System, SRS) and complements the effect of the seat belt.
  • 1988: After its world premiere in an S-Class sedan, the driver airbag soon gained company when Mercedes-Benz introduced the front passenger airbag in 1988.
  • 1992: In 1992, the driver airbag became standard equipment in all Mercedes-Benz models.
  • 1994: The front passenger airbag became standard equipment in 1994.
  • 1995: One year later, the developers of the Stuttgart-based company presented the side airbag in the E-Class, which opens across the doors in just 20 milliseconds after a collision. Recent developments in airbag technology include adaptive systems which adjust to the severity of an accident.
With the introduction of the airbag in 1981, Mercedes-Benz once again wrote safety history.
The Airbag
Accident research has proven the importance of this restraint system for vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. Airbags have saved lives in thousands of accidents.
Airbag, Kneebag, Sidebag
The belt tensioner, which was presented at the same time as the airbag, has also secured its place as an element of passive safety. From 1984 onward, all Mercedes-Benz models have been equipped with belt tensioners as standard on the front seats. In 1995, the belt tensioners of all models were combined with belt force limiters which adapt the performance of the restraint system to individual requirements.
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