Ford says it will expand availability of its unique inflatable rear seatbelts to a handful of additional models set to be in dealers next summer.

First offered in the 2012 Ford Explorer, inflatable rear seatbelts will soon be available in a variety of other Ford and Lincoln vehicles generally aimed at family buyers.

The automaker said that its upcoming refreshed Flex, which will be in dealers next summer, will offer the belts, as well as an undisclosed number of redesigned or refreshed Lincoln models.

Ford says that about 40 percent of Explorer buyer are families who chose to order the optional inflatable rear belts. Available as a $195 option on mid-level Explorer XLT and all Explorer Limited models, the belts are an industry first designed to offer additional protection to a wide range of passengers.

So far, Ford says it is pleased with the way consumers and dealers are ordering the redesigned Explorer, which went from a more rugged body-on-frame SUV design to a car-based crossover platform for 2012. About 87 percent of all buyers have optioned up their Explorers with a rear view camera, while 40 percent have chosen the Blind Spot Information System. About 22 percent have selected a package that includes adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and active park assist.