Saab says it will introduce depowered airbags on all its 1998 model cars.
The new Saab 9-5 will carry a two-stage airbag that inflates at different rates for belted or unbelted occupants.
Saab plans to offer intelligent airbag systems on all its cars soon after 2000.
The modified airbags will be 25 percent less powerful, said Saab safety specialist Christer Nilsson.
The two-stage airbags use seat sensors to determine whether a seat is occupied, and whether the seat belt is engaged.
The airbag will inflate at full power if the occupant is unbelted. It will inflate at reduced power if the occupant is wearing a seat belt. In some circumstances, said Nilsson, the system may not inflate the bag.
Two-stage airbags are officially due in 12 to 24 months, but they will appear on Saab's new 9-5 luxury sedan, which will be unveiled next month.
The final step in airbag development is the fully intelligent airbag, said Nilsson.
'This can differentiate between belted or nonbelted. It can detect the position and weight of the occupant, and of course the presence of a rear-facing child seat. The airbags automatically adapt to the situation' and react accordingly, he said.
Saab is researching several other ideas.
The automaker developed a complete safety system but scrapped it just before launching it.
'We were 99 percent there,' said Nilsson.
'But that last 1 percent was not fully proven - so we had to go back to the beginning again.'
There is widespread concern that full-strength airbags may injure certain occupants.
Those most at risk are unbelted children, out-of-position passengers and short drivers sitting close to the steering wheel.
The concern is greatest in the United States, where many drivers do not wear seat belts.