Volkswagen ID 3 debuts wild central airbag to protect against side-impact crashes

CNET Technology 3 weeks ago

We focus a lot on active safety technology, that is, the gear that can help prevent a crash from happening. However, until self-driving cars completely take over roads (and that's a very, very long time from now), passive safety features -- airbags, seatbelts and the like -- are just as important.

The Volkswagen ID 3 electric car recently revealed for Europe takes passive safety another step further with the introduction of a center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger. VW detailed the new airbag in a video posted to VW board member Jürgen Stackmann's twitter account. In the video, VW shows off how the electric car performs in a side-impact crash test, and in the process, we see how the center airbag works.

In the event of a side-impact crash, the center airbag will deploy between the two front seats. This will not only stop the driver from slamming their head and keep whiplash at bay, but it also keeps the passenger from hurling into the driver's area. VW says in the video this airbag placement is a direct result of its MEB electric-car platform.

Roadshow reached out to Volkswagen for more information on whether we can expect this innovation to expand to other VW models sold in the US, but a representative said it's too early to speak about any US-bound ID model. We know VW plans to launch its first electric car for the US next year and it'll likely wear the ID 4 name. Expect it to be a Tiguan-sized crossover to better suit Americans' tastes. Meanwhile, the Golf-sized ID 3 will remain exclusive to Europe.

As for the actual crash test, VW said it's worked to protect the ID 3's battery with threshold structures that prevent any damages from reaching the powerhouse of the electric car. The battery box also includes transverse load paths to keep cells intact. The German automaker said these developments rule out the risk of a fire in the event of a crash.

Since VW explicitly credits MEB for allowing such an airbag, it seems like a safe bet to say this system will be present on more VW electric cars in the future. We won't know for certain, however, until the automaker is ready to take the wraps off the ID 4 sometime in the near future.


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