Here’s some important information for all those with US spec MINIs built after 1/05 (from an internal MINIUSA bulletin):
The MINI Cooper and Cooper S production 01/05 and forward will have an OC3 mat in the passenger seat. Therefore the seat covers and sheepskin seat savers are not to be installed on the passenger seat of these models.
What is an OC mat? OC means Occupant Classification. Due to new NHTSA regulations, under certainly conditions, the passenger airbag must be suppressed. The OC mat works with pressure sensors below the passenger seat trim. Bt evaluating the weight on the front passenger seat, the system detects whether or not the seat is occupied by a child in a child-restrained system or an adult. When a child is seated in a child-restrain system or with an empty seat, the airbags are deactivated on the passenger side. When an adult is traveling in the front seat, the passenger airbags remain active.
It’s worth noting that the same recommendations are given to aftermarket seats covers as well.
These new regulations are also partly responsible for the new advanced airbags which we posted about a few months ago.