August 30, 2006

Ford announces more standard safety equipment

Dearborn, Michigan – The Ford Motor Company has announced more standard safety equipment, and research into two advanced next-generation seatbelt technologies that could help further reduce the number of annual vehicle fatalities, which are at their lowest levels since 1994.

One of Ford’s possible next-generation belts incorporates a four-point “belt and suspenders” design that improves on the current three-point belt. Another design incorporates an airbag directly into the belt to protect rear-seat passengers. A version of the belt was shown in the Reflex concept car at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year.

“A number of technical challenges still need to be overcome before implementing these restraint systems,” said Dr. Priya Prasad, Ford Technical Fellow for Safety. “If we are successful in implementing these technologies, we will be redefining the nature of future occupant restraint systems.”

Ford first used seatbelts in 1955, and was the first automaker to offer seatbelts as standard equipment in 1964; the three-point belt was introduced by Volvo, now a Ford affiliate, in 1959.

Ford also announced it is adding side and curtain airbags as standard equipment in many of its vehicles. New for the 2007 model year, curtain airbags or the company’s Safety Canopy system with rollover sensor will be standard on the Ford Fusion, Five Hundred, Freestyle, Expedition, Expedition EL, Edge, Explorer (Eddie Bauer and Limited), Lincoln MKX, MKZ, Navigator and Navigator L. They will also be available on the Mercury Milan, Montego and Mountaineer, models which are not sold in Canada.

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