While yet another airbag might seem unnecessary, General Motors has announced an industry first that takes passive restraints to the next level. GM has unveiled a new front center air bag-designed to help protect both the driver and front passenger, especially in far side crashes, where the impact occurs on the opposite side of where the occupant is sitting. The bag is mounted in the right side of the driver’s seat. When deployed, it positions itself between the two front seats—preventing the driver and passenger from colliding into each other.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that far side impact crashes account for 11 percent of fatalities among belted front passengers in non rollover incidents between 2004 and 2009. Safety advocates say the new inflatable restraint has the potential to save lives and reduce injuries. During the 2013 model year, the front center air bag will be introduced on the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevrolet Traverse midsize crossovers.
And in other news, Chrysler is working with the Department of Energy to evaluate the practicality of Plug In Hybrid Electric technology where it might be most beneficial, on larger light duty vehicles including pickup trucks. Chrysler will soon deliver four plug in hybrid electric RAM 1500 pickup trucks to the city of Auburn Hills, Michigan. The four trucks are part of a nationwide fleet of 140 plug in hybrids to test consumer usage, fuel economy, impact on electric grid, and much more.
The PHEV RAM trucks include a liquid cooled 12.9 kWhr (Kilowatt-Hour) Lithium Ion battery pack and a 6.6 kilowatt on board charger. Powertrain for the RAM is a 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 and a two mode hybrid electric transmission. The system also provides 120 and 240 volt AC outlets to use for power tools. These vehicles will be running utility and municipal fleets across the US and can help reduce dependency on foreign oil. The program is partially funded by Department of Energy, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant.