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2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class will debut with first inflatable seatbelt

by Paul Rachwal

Mercedes-Benz promises to include Beltbag inflatable rear seatbelts as standard equipment in all 2014 S-Class sedans.

Mercedes-Benz will bring an innovative new safety feature to its lineup with an inflatable seat belt for rear seat passengers in the next-generation S-Class flagship. Called Beltbag, it will debut in the 2014 S-Class and aims to reduce injuries to rear seat passengers.

The feature will be standard equipment in the next-generation S-Class, which is due to go on sale in the first half of 2013. The luxury automaker isn't the first with such a feature, however, as Ford brought an inflatable rear seatbelt to its 2011 Explorer.

Mercedes-Benz claims its system will reduce the load on passengers' thorax. The multi-layer seat belt strap has tear seams that can be inflated up to nearly three times their normal width. A gas generator will inflate the seatbelt. The automaker also added that during consumer tests, the Beltbag was said to have "good comfort characteristics and extremely soft strap edging."

The next S-Class, which is expected to debut at the Geneva show next spring, will also likely bring with it a new nine-speed automatic transmission.