Detroit, Michigan – General Motors has announced the industry’s first front centre airbag, intended to restrain drivers when they are alone in the vehicle, or cushion driver and front-seat passengers in crashes where the affected occupant is on the side opposite to the impact.

The airbag will be introduced on the 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse. It will be standard on GMC and Chevrolet models with power seats, and all Enclave models.

The front centre airbag deploys from the right side of the driver’s seat and positions between the front-row seats near the centre of the vehicle. The tethered, tubular airbag is also expected to provide benefit in rollovers.

GM said that analysis of NHTSA data found that far-side impact crashes, which the new airbag primarily addresses, accounted for 11 per cent of the belted front occupant fatalities in non-rollover impacts between 2004 and 2009 involving 1999 model-year or newer vehicles. These far-side fatalities, where the occupant is on the non-struck side of the vehicle, also represent 29 per cent of all the belted front occupant fatalities in side impacts.

The bag was developed by GM and technology supplier Takata over the course of three years. Numerous elements of the airbag’s cushion design address the restraint’s unique performance characteristics while considering a range of occupant sizes.

“While no restraint technology can address all body regions or all potential injuries, the front centre airbag is designed to work with the other airbags and safety belts in the vehicles to collectively deliver an even more comprehensive occupant restraint system,” said Gay Kent, GM executive director of vehicle safety and crashworthiness.

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