KSS 100 Year History
100 years of pioneering safety
Steering the course for safety innovation since the dawn of automobile, key Safety Systems has pioneered life-saving safety technology since 1916. From handcrafted steering wheels for the Ford Model-T, to the advancement of retractable seat belts, the inception of airbags, and the breakthrough of crash sensors, to present day active safety solutions, KSS remains at the forefront of mobility safety. Our journey continues, advancing the way safety systems integrate into our world propelled by the relentless passion of our employees, dedicated to saving lives.
The start of KSS
KSS traces its roots to 1916 when entrepreneur Harry E. Sheller strategically entered the market as a tier one automotive supplier. Sheller produced handcrafted steering wheels for the Ford Motor Company Model T vehicle, and expanded to meet the growing demand of the “car for the masses.” Over the years that followed, ingenuity fostered such safety innovations of their time as the compound rubber molded steering wheel, and the “deep-center” steering wheels with spokes that would flex.
Seat belts: first life-saving devices
In the mid 1960’s, long before becoming standard in passenger vehicles, KSS predecessor companies were developing, patenting and producing seat belts both in Europe and the United States.
Breakthrough technology: airbag crash sensor
Allen Kent Breed invented a mechanically-based ball-in-tube component for crash detection and airbag activation. In 1988, his company, Breed Technologies, brings to market the first-of-its-kind electromechanical crash sensor, which soon became installed in more than half of the world’s airbag-equipped vehicles. As a forerunner of the electronic sensors popular today and.in recognition of this invention, Allen K. Breed was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich., in 1999.
World Premiere: Airbags
After years of research, 1973 marked the year when the company produced the first airbags installed on vehicles sold to the public on the Oldsmobile Toronado.
The company acquired 11 automotive safety companies to expand technology portfolio and global footprint.
The tier one sector consolidated and KSS developed a strong base of business in Europe and North America. The company entered the Asian market when it first opened an office in Japan, where it has operated for 25 years. KSS continued to expand in Asia and today has a presence in China, India, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. Its global footprint now includes 32 facilities in 14 countries.
Our Next 100 years
“To sustain for one hundred years in such a fiercely competitive landscape is a remarkable achievement,” said Jason Luo – CEO, Key Safety Systems. “Additionally, it is an honor for our company’s entrepreneurial pioneering spirit to shine as a beacon of safety within the industries we serve. Continuing our relentless drive – adapting and growing – in new product lines and broader global markets is a testament to our employees’ will and dedication to save lives. With the expanse of ADAS opportunities, active safety segments, and yet untapped prospects that lie ahead, we look forward to our next one-hundred years!”