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With more and more cars coming into the market every year and our roads becoming ever increasingly overcrowded you would think that passenger and driver safety would be paramount to vehicle manufacturers.
As it stands, the Cybertruck will not be fitted with airbags. Driver and passenger safety will rely on a combination of the vehicle’s unique body styling, the innovative use of materials, build quality, seating position, and seatbelts.
Which you might think is a little odd when considering that Tesla is known for making some of the safest cars globally and that every Tesla, including the Model S, Model and Model 3, has achieved top safety ratings from the likes of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (llHS) and Euro NCAP.
What Are Airbags?
Considered to be one of the most significant vehicle safety innovations of recent decades and is best described as large inflatable cushions.
Airbags are built into a vehicle to prevent the driver or passenger’s head and chest from hitting the vehicle interior or objects outside the vehicle (for example, other cars or trees) during a collision.
First introduced in 1999, airbags are designed to provide crucial cushioning for people during a crash. Such is their effectiveness; it is thought that front airbags help reduce driver fatalities in front-on impacts by as much as 29 percent and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32 percent.
While side airbags that protect the head and torso protection reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 41 percent and an SUV driver’s risk by up to 52 percent.
A Brief History Of Airbags
- 1973 – The Oldsmobile Toronado became the first car fitted with a passenger airbag.
- 1974 – Buick, Cadillac, and Oldsmobile all offer dual airbags on several of their larger models.
- 1980 – Mercedes Benz became the first manufacturer in Europe to introduce airbags as an option on their top-of-the-range S-class (W126).
- Mid 80’s Ford & Chrysler introduce airbags as an option.
- 1987 – Porsche 944 and Honda Legend offer them as standard
- 1990 – Ford makes airbags standard equipment across their model range.
- 1995 – Volvo introduces side airbags as an option on their 850 models.
- 1998 – The U.S. Federal Government mandates that dual front airbags must be fitted on all passenger vehicles.
- Towards the end of the 1990s, almost all new cars in the U.K. either come with an airbag or are offered as an option.
However, it’s interesting to note that despite the number of serious injuries and lives saved due to the fitting of airbags. Currently, there is no distinct legal requirement for cars in either the U.K. or Canada to be fitted with airbags; it is only suggested; that they should be equipped.
How Do Airbags Work?
Considered supplemental protection that works best in conjunction with seat belts, airbags are located in the steering wheel, dashboard, and side pillars.
Once a crash starts to happen, the electronic control unit within the airbag will monitor the severity of the forthcoming impact. If it considers the implications extreme, the sensors will signal the inflators to fill the bags with gas in less than 1/20th of a second.
And while airbags are there to help prevent injury, that’s not always the case. Because airbags deploy very rapidly, severe or occasionally fatal injuries can occur if the driver or passenger is too close or comes in direct contact with the airbag when it first begins to deploy.
Why Does The Cybertruck Not Have Airbags?
So if airbags work so well and help save lives and serious injuries, why wouldn’t Tesla fit them to the Cybertruck as standard? Well, to understand why the Tesla Cybertruck does not have airbags fitted, you need to learn more about how the vehicle has been designed or why it takes on the appearance of a giant Meccano toy.
You see, while most of us believed that the quirky ‘triangle’ shape of the Cybertruck was all down to the design team at Tesla trying to go wild with their thinking. It turns out nothing could be further from the truth because unknown to most of us.
Triangles are thought to be some of the strongest geometric forms and one of the more robust shapes found in nature and engineering, hence why triangles are used to construct bridges, stadium spars, and building designs.
But for it to work effectively, it requires the triangle to be very rigid, and that’s probably one of the reasons why the engineers at Tesla decided to make the panels on the Cybertruck out of 30 X hard cold-rolled stainless steel, unlike the mild steel typically used in cars.
The benefits of using stainless steel in this way not only help to make the Cybertruck heavier it also makes it much tougher on the outside and rust-resistant – which helps to keep down the cost of body repairs.
Furthermore, by designing the Cybertruck as one giant triangle, it allows the passengers to be centered closer to the midpoint of the car. Doing so further protects passengers from both forward and rear collisions.
So while we might have sounded a little flippant at the start of this article, when we suggested that driver and passenger safety would be reliant on a combination of the Cybertrucks design, build quality and seating position, you can see we weren’t that far from being correct.
Without Airbags, Will The Cybertruck Be Legal?
In the U.S., without airbags, the Cybertruck may well have a chance of being considered legal, and that’s down to a couple of things. Firstly, as the name suggests, it’s a ‘truck’, and secondly, with an expected GVWR of more than 8,501 pounds, it’s likely to be classified as a Class 2B medium-duty vehicle as such, is not legally required to have airbags fitted.
Whereas in mainland Europe, where manufacturers are required to pass more tests, do more paperwork, and different governments are involved in the safety approval process of vehicles. (Which is why missing side mirrors are proving challenging)
It is highly unlikely that the Cybertruck will be considered a mass-production street legal vehicle without having airbags fitted.