Renault will introduce three seat-belt innovations within the next year, including a novel 'bag-in-belt.'
Swedish supplier Autoliv and the French carmaker co-developed two of the three passive safety devices.
The bag-in-belt is a 60-liter airbag incorporated in rear seat belts. It was designed to overcome the difficulty of mounting airbags on the backs of front seats, which are adjusted by front-seat passengers.
'You cannot put an airbag in the back of a front seat, because you never know where that seat is,' said Alain Diboine, head of Renault's passive safety department.
The bag-in-belt will appear in 2003. But Renault also will introduce two other innovations in the fourth quarter.
* An anti-sliding airbag inflates under the knees of front-seat passengers to prevent submarining - sliding under the lap belt during a collision. Developed with Autoliv, the tiny 5-liter airbag is made of two thin welded steel sheets and fits under the front-seat cushions. When inflated, the airbag pushes the knees up before a passenger even starts to move forward, effectively holding the passenger firmly in the seat. It's designed to reduce abdominal and back injuries.
* Renault will add load limiters on lap-strap portions of seat belts to protect the pelvis of passengers in a collision. Similar devices already exist for shoulder straps to protect the torso. In violent collisions, passengers' bodies can be injured by the tightening of the belt itself. Load limiters are designed to progressively extend the belt to reduce the restraining effect during deceleration. In short, load limiters may let passengers survive higher-speed crashes.