People crashing their brand-new muscle cars is as much a universal constant as the arrow of time and the speed of light. At least when the inevitable happens, and photos of said crash end up all over the internet, the owner will take solace that their new 2015 Ford Mustang is the safest the company has ever produced.
Behind that is a roster of eight airbags, twice as many as the 2014 car offered. And among those is an innovative new knee airbag for passengers--stored in the glovebox lid. Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] has already been granted 15 new patents for its glovebox door knee airbag, one that Ford says not only increases safety but also interior space.
Packaging an entire airbag into the slim plastic panel that normally forms a glovebox seems like a tricky task, so Ford has opted for a different method. Instead, Ford has put an inflatable plastic bladder within the glovebox door. When an impact is detected and the airbag triggered, an inflator fills this bladder, extending the entire glovebox outer panel towards the passenger's knees.
While this apparently means being knee-butted by a plastic panel, rather than the traditional fabric bag, Ford says it offers protection "similar" to that of a traditional knee airbag. It also sounds a great deal more comfortable than your legs hitting the rigid structure of the dashboard itself, which is the alternative. The unusual design could also have other applications--Ford is exploring the bladder's use in other parts of the car's interior--in Ford's words, "reducing weight and enabling greater design flexibility".
The knee airbag is one of eight scattered around the new Mustang's cabin, working in conjunction with a stronger bodyshell, more peripheral crash sensors and additional pretensioning safety belt technology. All allow the new Mustang to provide a more sophisticated safety setup than before, and those are just part of the car's passive safety setup. Active safety improvements include new high-intensity discharge headlamps for night-time driving, and Ford MyKey--limiting top speed or audio volume when, for example, an owner's child takes to the wheel.