Honda engineers have developed a new airbag that is capable of reaching full inflation quicker (0.015 second) and of inflating in distinct stages. By inflating more quickly (current bags take 0.030 second), there is a greater chance to cushion the driver better. And distinct microstages, much like those of a piezo-electric direct injector, lessen the force of the bag's explosive deployment on the driver's body.
This new-gen airbag will be introduced on the Life Minicar, which goes on sale in November only in Japan. Europe may receive the new bag as early as next year, said senior manager Koichi Kamiji. Possibilities for U.S. implementation are predicated on meeting U.S. safety regulations, they say in legalese.--Colin Mathews