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PressClub USA · Article.

BMW Introduces Next Generation of Intelligent Airbag System

Beginning this month, BMW 5 and 7 Series cars will be equipped with the next generation of "intelligent" airbag protection.

National Motorsports

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Rob Mitchell
BMW Group

Tel: 201-307-3701
Fax: 201-307-3607

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Beginning this month, BMW 5 and 7 Series cars will be equipped with the next
generation of "intelligent" airbag protection. The new system will
automatically assess the severity of an impact and choose between two inflation
rates for the front airbags. This feature, combined with the marque's
"intelligent" dual-threshold technology and Head Protection System, further
reinforces BMW's position as a leader in safety technology.

Inflation Philosophy of BMW Intelligent Airbags:
As Gentle as Possible, as Powerful as Necessary

The cornerstone of the new system is a two-stage gas generator (as opposed to a
conventional single-stage unit) which inflates the airbags. In less severe
accidents only the first stage is activated whereas at higher severity also the
second stage is activated either with a time delay or simultaneously. Generator
power and response in all cases are adjusted to best protect front-seat
occupants from coming into contact with the steering wheel or instrument panel.

An Integrated Approach to Occupant Safety

The new, more intelligent front airbag system is part of a holistic approach to
occupant safety that is inherent in every BMW automobile. For example, every
BMW comes standard with two front and front-side-impact airbags. Moreover,
automatic front safety belt tensioners that "cinch" the belts tighter in a
severe frontal impact are standard. BMW's airbag/tensioner deployment system
is so sophisticated that it differentiates between an impact in which only the
tensioners are needed, or both tensioners and airbags. This "intelligent
safety system" also recognizes whether or not the passenger seat is occupied;
if not, its airbag is not deployed, possibly saving repair (and ultimately
insurance) costs. All BMW sedans and new 3 Series coupes also have an
innovative door anchoring system that further increases the body's protective
effect, significantly reducing the forces on occupants in side-impacts.

BMW also led the industry through the introduction of the world's first Head
Protection System in 1997. Today, all BMW sedans and new 3 Series coupes come
standard with this innovative safety device. HPS, which is integrated in the
vehicle's roofline, supplements the effect of the door-integrated side airbags
by stretching diagonally across the front side windows - cushioning the head in
an impact.

A further benefit of the Head Protection System is that the unit acts as a
structural element of the car. In case of a rollover the system can reduce the
likelihood of occupants being thrown out of the car.

Another innovation pioneered by BMW in 1994 was the introduction of airbags
with Dual Threshold Deployment, a technology where the airbag control unit
interacts with a belt latch detector allowing different deployment thresholds.
This technology automatically adjusts the airbag deployment threshold based on
the severity of impact and whether the front occupants are wearing seat belts.
If they haven't buckled up, the airbag will deploy at a lower crash severity.

Dedicated To Leading the Industry in Safety Innovation

In a recent crash test analysis of the BMW 5 Series sedan performed by the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS President Brian O'Neill then
concluded that, "if all cars performed this well, we would stop this kind of
testing." BMW is committed to building not only the ultimate driving machine,
but also delivering the ultimate in safety technology. The new "intelligent"
dual-inflation rate airbag technology, when combined with the balance of BMW's
safety innovations, will again set the standard in the industry. The new
"intelligent" dual-inflation rate airbag technology will be introduced in the
BMW Z3 and 3 Series sedan and coupe models later this year.

BMW of North America, Inc. was established in 1975, when the company assumed
marketing and distribution responsibilities of BMW vehicles in the U.S. from a
private distributor. Since then, the company's North American operations have
grown to include marketing, sales and financial services organizations in the
United States and Canada; a South Carolina manufacturing operation; a design
firm in California; and various other operations throughout the U.S. and
Canada. BMW is represented in North America through a network of more than 375
automobile and 190 motorcycle retailers in the United States and Canada. BMW
(US) Holding Corp., the marque's North American headquarters, is located in
Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

BMW Safety Timeline

Dual Stage Deployment for front airbags
The system deploys the front airbags depending on crash severity: As gentle as
possible, as powerful as necessary. Introduced in March1999 with the 5 and 7

Navigation/Mayday System
First in the market to offer automated distress call system with navigation
system. A touch of a button transmits the location of the vehicle and
automatically opens up a direct line to a live person at BMW's Roadside
Assistance Group for emergency response.

Head Protection System
Entirely concealed behind the headliner, above the front doors and within the
A-pillar, the Head Protection System offers increased head protection in side
impacts. When deployed, the Head Protection System inflates to become a
structural part of the car by forming a straight line diagonally across the
side window. When inflated, each unit forms a hollow, flexible, essentially
airtight tube about 5 feet long and 5.1 inches in diameter. Introduced with
the 1998 7 Series models it meanwhile comes standard also on all 5 Series as
well as on the 3 Series sedans and coupes..

Rear side airbags
In extension of ASAP (Advanced Side Airbag Protection) BMW offers optional side
impact protection for the rear passengers. Available beginning with the 1998 7
Series models. Meanwhile available as an option on all 5 and 7 Series and the
new 3 Series sedans and coupes.

Battery safety terminal
The battery safety terminal (BST) will avoid short circuiting of the high
amperage starter circuit in an event of a collision. BST is actuated by the
air bag control unit and uses a pyrotechnical charge to separate the starter
cable from the battery in a crash.

Driver and passenger side airbags
BMW's ASAP (Advanced Side Airbag Protection) system employs a large-area
inflatable bag in each front door. Front side airbags protect the thorax in
side impacts.
Introduced with the xx 7 Series side airbags are meanwhile standard on all BMW.

Dual Treshold Deployment of front
First in the United States to offer an "intelligent" safety system, the
dual-threshold deployment system. When the safety belt is used, the airbag will
not deploy at a lower crash severity, but only at the higher crash severity,
where airbags are more effective. The "intelligent" safety system also knows if
the passenger seat is occupied; if not, its airbag will not deploy, saving
repair and insurance costs.

Passenger seat occupancy recognition
A sensor in the passenger seat recognizes if the seat is occupied or not. If
the seat is not occupied, the airbag won't go off in the event of a collision,
thus saving the expense of unnecessary replacement.

Interlocking door anchoring system
In each of the four doors is a diagonal aluminum reinforcement bar. The rear
end of this bar is anchored to a hook-like member that, in the event of a
serious side impact, "grabs" the body pillar. Thus the front door is "hooked
into" the B-pillar, the rear door into the body's rear quarter - helping hold
the body side together as a unit for significantly increased strength. The
system is designed so that after most impacts, elastic "snap-back" of the
system releases the hooks and the doors can be opened.

Front passenger airbag
The passenger's airbag is positioned in the top of the instrument panel. It
has dual gas generators and inflates to more than twice the volume of the
driver's airbag to provide restraint in the event of a frontal collision.

Automatic front seat belt tensioners
This system automatically tightens the front belts in a collision, further
improving the restraint of occupants. It is integrated into the belt latches,
mounted to the inboard side of each front seat. Upon impact the pyrotechnic
charge fires (mechanical actuation in 3 Series models) and the mechanism pulls
the latch downward to tighten both the shoulder and lap belt portions directly.

Seat integrated belt system (SBS)
By anchoring the entire belt system to the seat itself, SBS provides an
optimum, consistent belt run. The shoulder belt, being anchored in a
locking/clamping reel just behind the shoulder, is significantly shorter than
one anchored to the lower body or B-pillar, so there's less belt stretch when
the belt is restraining the occupant. Thus there is no need for a belt

Antilock braking system (ABS)
BMW was the first manufacturer in the U.S. to offer ABS across the model line
in 1986. The system minimizes wheel lock-up which can occur in inclement
weather (like rain, ice or snow) but can also occur on a dry road. No matter
how hard the driver brakes, the wheels do not lock up and skid. So, whether
driving in a curve or straight, rough or smooth road, slick or dry - the driver
can safely steer the car under braking, potentially avoiding an accident.

Driver's side front airbag
Introduced the driver's airbag, which in a severe frontal impact inflates in
less than 40 milliseconds and helps prevent the driver from being thrown
against the steering wheel and dash. The airbag is a supplement to the use of
the safety belt, the primary restraint system in the vehicle.

Impact Sensor
In the event of a collision, the impact sensor automatically unlocks the doors
and turns on the four-way flashers and interior lights to facilitate rescue of
the occupants.

Adjustable seat belt anchoring points
Front sat belt anchoring points are adjustable for height, either manually or
automatically so that regardless of the size of the occupant, the ideal belt
positioning can be established.

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