DETROIT – The automotive seating industry continues a strong migration towards standardized front-seat structures, and Tier 1 supplier Intier Automotive Seating is looking to expand those engineering initiatives to the back rows.

“The next frontier in seating is going to be rear seat-structure commonization,” Imtiyaz Syed, Intier vice president-engineering, says in a presentation at the 2007 Ward’s Auto Interiors Show here.

Standardization “has to evolve,” Syed says, and Intier is examining the possibility of standardizing second- and third-row seating – a matter considered a bigger challenge because those seat structures are much more varied than the individual, bucket-seat shape that dominates the front row in almost all vehicle types.

Syed says the seating industry must continue with standardization efforts because of several ongoing trends:

  • Increasing global cost pressures.
  • More models being derived from fewer major platforms.
  • Lower volumes per model.
  • An explosion of new and innovative features.

He also suggests an industry consortium to develop common seating parts.

Syed says a basic strategy for commonization would include:

  • Scalable core technology to adapt to new and changed regulations.
  • Modular design that enables easy addition or deletion of content.
  • Adaptive design.
  • Flexible design that enables production under differing manufacturing strategies.

A minimum of 50% of the content in Intier’s innovative Swivel 'n Go seating – to be featured in Chrysler Group’s redesigned ’08 minivans – ascribes to the standardization theories Syed espouses. And if the actual swivel mechanism is discounted, Swivel 'n Go’s standardized content probably approaches 70%, he says.

Seat components lend themselves to a high level of standardization because “it is not visible to the customer,” Syed points out. “There is no brand distinction (in hidden seat components).”