All-round head protection

In the field of car occupant protection, the central airbag is becoming an integral part of new Škoda models.

9. 5. 2023

Zero. Not a single road user killed. This is the goal of Vision Zero, a multinational initiative lobbying for the most effective measures to keep all road users safe. In the same spirit, the consumer organisation Euro NCAP, whose tests have consistently awarded Škoda vehicles the highest five-star rating, is also tightening its requirements. In order to maintain this standard, the Czech carmaker is constantly improving safety features in its vehicles and developing new ones. 

In the Enyaq iV, the front centre airbag prevents the driver and front-seat passenger from smashing into each other in a crash.

These are active systems that use cameras, radar and sensors to prevent accidents, as well as passive features that are designed to minimise the consequences of an accident through optimally designed bodywork and sophisticated restraint systems. These now include the centre airbag, which is available in the latest generation Octavia and comes as standard in the Enyaq iV and Enyaq Coupé iV.

Škoda cars have long been among the highest rated in Euro NCAP tests, partly because of their high-precision passive restraint systems, including the centre airbag,” explains Klára Ševčíková, who is responsible for the development of this airbag at Škoda.

The central airbag is located in the driver’s seat armrest area. Its presence is revealed by a fabric label with the word “Airbag” on the side of the armrest above the centre console. This safety feature is most beneficial in the event of side impacts, when it prevents the driver’s and passenger’s heads from colliding.

foto3-copy_f777aff9 Klára Ševčíková
development of airbags

Rigorously tested

Central airbag design takes into account the various positions of the front seats in relation to each other, as well as different types of human figures (dummies in the tests). Static and dynamic tests verify the airbag’s functionality before it is approved for series production. In static testing, for example, the airbag must deploy properly from the seat in low and high temperatures. 

The centre airbag is increasingly becoming standard equipment in Škoda cars - like here in the Octavia.

The airbag also undergoes a material ageing simulation programme that lasts up to 12 weeks. The part is tested in a climate chamber under shock, large temperature fluctuations, salt fog and dust. Dynamic tests, known as crash tests, offer a very accurate and realistic simulation of real-life car crash situations. The airbag has to fulfil its restraining function in these tests. Various criteria are then evaluated, such as the coverage of the potential head impact area, biomechanical values measured on the dummies and, last but not least, the timely and correct firing of the airbag.

How the central airbag works

If the control unit detects a side impact or a combination of impacts in an accident, the central airbag is deployed within a few milliseconds, along with the other restraint systems. The airbag is fired and filled with gas in the space between the front seats and above the centre console. Its function is to slow the movement of the front-seat occupants towards each other and to prevent as far as possible a direct collision between their heads and possibly their shoulders. If there is an impact on the passenger side and the driver is alone in the car, the central airbag will cushion the driver’s body movement and reduce injuries that may occur, for example, to the ribs, arms and neck.

Related Stories Based on tags: 2022, ENYAQ iV, OCTAVIA, safety