At a time when car companies are putting more emphasis on the interior craftsmanship of their cars, several of the supplier companies which dominate the interiors business are running for the exits, or are getting ready to.
Workers at an automotive seat factory in Mississippi are protesting what they say are low wages and poor working conditions as they attempt to unionize in what could become a new front for the United Auto Workers in the state.
We've seen automotive price-fixing scandals in the past, most recently against nine Japanese suppliers that received $740 million in fines from the US Department of Justice. Now the European Union is cracking down hard on the anti-competitive practice. On March 25, its regulators raided several exhaust system suppliers, including one based in the US, and more busts could be on the way.
In 2010, automotive supplier Faurecia showed off a car seat that, via Bluetooth communication with a smartphone app, would adjust itself based on information the occupant had entered. It looks like that was too much work for a busy executive to do, because Automotive News has a story on how that seat has progressed, and it's now almost fully automatic.
At one time, recently at that, the 22-way adjustable seat was a marvel – especially since we didn't know our own bodies even had 22 different ways to be seated comfortably. Automotive supplier Faurecia plans on going well beyond that, however, with its prototype Bluetooth-enabled SmartFit seating system.
French seat manufacturer Faurecia has announced a new seat design that eliminates completely the use of polyurethane foam. The model, called Sustainable Comfort Seat, has two sheets of injection-molded thermoplastic polyurethane instead of classic foam. The new process not only saves weight, it's 17 percent (30 mm or 1 1/4 inches) thinner than standard seats, which gives backseat passengers a bit more legroom. The metallic structure is also replaced by injection-molded nylon and long-glass-fiber
Parts suppliers are experiencing just as much trouble as the automakers they supply. Employees at one company, though, have taken a tip from Somali pirates and upped the anger stakes. When Faurecia felt it had been wronged by Chrysler, it took Chrysler to court. When Faurecia's employees in France felt they had been wronged by the company they work for, they kidnapped three managers for five hours.
It seems like all the news coming out about Chrysler these days is of the bad variety and today is no different. The ailing automaker has just been sued by one of its suppliers, Faurecia Interior Systems Inc. of Auburn Hills to the tune of $110 million. Faurecia currently provides interior systems like center consoles, instrument panels and door panels for the PT Cruiser, Chrysler Sebring (at right), Dodge Avenger, Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro.