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Pagani Huayra's rubbish airbags delay US launch

The Huayra may be one of the world's most advanced sports cars, but a US safety body is blocking its sale due to its outdated airbag tech.


The Pagani Huayra may be one of the world's most advanced sports cars, but a US safety body is blocking its sale in the land of the free due to its use of outdated -- and potentially dangerous -- airbag technology.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is putting the kibosh on the car's US release, as it uses the archaic, explode-in-your-face-and-hope-style airbags pioneered back in the 1950s, rather than the more advanced airbags seen in modern vehicles.

These days, the NHTSA requires all cars to be fitted with advanced airbags, which vary their force of deployment depending on the severity of the crash, the person's proximity to the airbag, whether seatbelts or child restraints are being used, and the size of the occupant, which is of particular importance when travelling with children or Tom Cruise.

Pagani had applied for exemption from the NHTSA's safety rules on the grounds it's a low-volume manufacturer that doesn't have the financial resources to adopt such airbags. The application was declined, however, because the NHTSA ruled Pagani 'didn't show that serious efforts had been made to comply' with the safety standards.

Since the ruling, Pagani has said it will move the €1m (£877,000) car's US launch from 2012 to 2013.

Pagani may not be the only company to suffer at the hands of the NHTSA. Tesla was granted temporary exemption from using advanced airbags and electronic stability systems in its Roadster on the basis that compliance would have caused the company substantial economic hardship.

Tesla has applied for a renewal of its exemption, but the NHTSA has said it will be seriously considering whether it's in the public interest to continue to grant such exemptions, given the number of years advanced airbag requirements have been in effect.

Too right, we say. There's something very disconcerting about a 230mph hypercar such as the Huayra, or something as brutally quick as the Tesla Roadster, relying on 60-year-old technology to prevent occupants from dying.