Friday, October 28, 2016

Is a Smart Seat in Your Auto Driving Future?

Imagine this– you hop into your car, and the seat moves and molds to match your body contour and height.  Believe it or not, your car could have a smart seat like this in just three (3) short years. 

Lear, a global supplier of automotive seating and electrical systems, has developed a “smart seat” so secret, that pictures are not yet available.  The seats will reportedly make adjustments to account for the driver’s physique– move forward or backwards to accommodate long or short limbs, wrap around thighs and torsos, and create a lumbar setting that is chiropractor certified to help ward off fatigue.  The seat is expected to be in production within three (3) years, and will be manufactured out of the company’s new Innovation Center in downtown Detroit, Michigan.  The Innovation Center will develop “smart seats” and e-systems for charging electric vehicles that are smaller and more advanced than the ones currently in production.  

Lear spent a whopping $10 million to buy and renovate the building. Lear employs about 140,000 in 240 locations including about 2,500 in metro Detroit and almost 5,000 in Michigan. Its headquarters are in Southfield, Michigan.

A native of Detroit, Lear CEO Matt Simoncini sees the Innovation Center as a return to Lear’s roots in the Motor City. And he sees doing advance work in Detroit as a competitive advantage for a company expected to report revenue of about $18.5 billion this year.

Competitors Faurecia, Johnson Controls, and Magna International are also reportedly working on their own versions of “smart seats” for use in the auto industry.  

The question is, however, whether auto manufacturers will buy into the idea.  Many are skeptical.  Ford Motor Company is reportedly interested, but only "if that cost-benefit ratio makes sense."  Toyota is reportedly actively researching a “smart seat” concept.  General Motors, on the other hand, appears to reportedly have no interest incorporating a “smart seat” into its vehicles.

Beth Wells

Helping Consumers Get Rid of Lemons, 12 Years Running