Supplier TRW Automotive Holding Corp. has developed a roof airbag product that is designed to allow automakers have create more space for interior styling compared with typical instrument panel airbags.
The "bag in roof" airbag system deploys one airbag from the roof, protecting both driver and passenger, thus eliminating the need for a passenger-side airbag (usually found in the instrument panel).
TRW said that implanting the system in vehicles will not only save vehicle manufacturers space, but it will significantly lower dashboard production costs.
"Occupant safety systems are becoming increasingly versatile," Dirk Schultz, engineering director for TRW's Inflatable Restraint Systems, said in a statement. "With the increasing focus on reducing road fatalities, we need to develop new ways to enhance the protection of occupants -- one area of focus is the design and configuration of airbags."
TRW, which has worked on the "bag in roof" project for several years, said it landed "a significant production contract" with an unnamed major European automaker. TRW has been working with the manufacturer for the past two years on the new technology.
Steven Peterson, director of engineering systems for TRW, said the company expects the "bag in roof" to debut in 2014 model-year vehicles and manufacturing will most likely take place in Germany or Poland.