BMW will fit its 3 series sold in the USA with an energy-absorbing composite headliner supplied by Cellbond, a UK supplier. It is the first volume car to adopt the technology, which uses foam-filled aluminum honeycomb.
The new headliner will meet FMVSS201 head injury protection criteria being introduced in the US in 1999. The composite panel is 2.5 times more expensive than existing rigid foam panels, but it takes up half the space.
BMW has exclusive rights to the Cellbond technology until June 2002. However, Cellbond is already talking to Mercedes about supplying a composite panel with better energy absorption characteristics.
Mike Ashmead, Cellbond's managing director, says Europe could soon follow the US in adopting more exacting head injury criteria, creating further demand for composite panels.