ZF Has Reimagined the Steering Wheel with a Groundbreaking New Airbag Design

The German automotive supplier has revolutionized the steering wheel with a cutting-edge new airbag design.

For decades, airbags have been positioned in the center of steering wheels, but ZF has introduced a new design that deploys from the top side of the wheel, providing greater design flexibility.

This innovative steering wheel and airbag were developed by ZF Lifetec, the company’s passive safety systems division. During a crash, the airbag deploys from the top of the wheel and extends below the upper rim towards the driver. ZF asserts that this new design maintains safety standards while creating new possibilities for the central hub of the steering wheel.

The first steering wheel by ZF Lifetec featuring this new airbag design consists of a single gloss black panel spanning the center of the wheel.

It boasts a seamless, uncluttered design, with the horn buttons still positioned in the center, similar to most cars. Automakers could further develop this concept by incorporating force-sensitive controls into the steering wheel or placing a screen where the airbag used to be.

Additionally, ZF states that its latest wheel can integrate hands-on detection beneath the leather, discerning whether a driver is making contact with or securely grasping the wheel.

Although ZF has not confirmed the readiness of its novel steering wheel airbag design for production or the timeline for when new vehicles might incorporate airbags deploying from the top of the wheel instead of the center, this advancement is certain to capture the interest of automotive interior designers eager to streamline bulky steering wheel designs.


  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...