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Lear Corporation is a company best known for supplying vehicle interior systems, particularly seats. However, like many other major automotive suppliers, Lear has seen an opportunity in vehicle electrification and is branching out into new product areas.

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With sales numbers continually bad and plants just now awakening from long idle periods, suppliers are particularly vulnerable to financial trouble. Seat supplier Lear Corporation failed to pay a $38 million obligation on June 1st, and the grace period has just run out. With General Motors as its largest customer, and a significant amount of Blue-Oval business, as well, Lear's late 2008 gamble of borrowing $1.2 billion as a hedge against Detroit bankruptcy has proven difficult for the company to

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digg_url = 'http://digg.com/environment/What_s_going_to_be_THE_green_vehicle_of_2008_How_bout_the_Ford_Mustang'; The Ford Mustang is not a car that typically appears on this site, but Ford has some big news for the 2008 model. Just a couple of days after briefing the media on their bio-materials development efforts Ford has announced that the 2008 Mustang will be getting seats made from soy foam. The soy foam is made up of twenty-four percent renewable content and the production process emits

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Automotive interiors typically contain about 30 to 40 pounds of foam and most of that is made from petro-chemicals. That makes it a prime candidate for alternative materials for both weight and cost reduction. The cost reduction is particularly important for interior suppliers, like Southfield, Michigan-based Lear, that have been hit really hard by the drive for price reductions from the car-makers in recent years. Many suppliers have gone into bankruptcy recently.

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Al Koch helped see over the revival of Kmart, so he knows a thing or two about financial difficulty - and that's exactly what he sees in the auto-part industry. Koch specially mentions decreasing production from domestic automakers as potentially causing severe trouble. While a move away from incentives has increased the profitability of the Big Three, it puts the squeeze on suppliers by decreasing production (you can bet that none of that profit makes its way down the supply chai

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Within the auto industry, it's something of an secret that most suppliers prefer to work with Asian "transplant" OEMs, who are perceived to be easier to work with. Planning Perspective's recently released survey shows that the Big 3 are making substantive improvements, but still have a long ways to go until becoming Best Friends Forever with the companies that supply parts to them.

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Delphi Corp. has announced that vice chairman Dave Wohleen is opting for retirement at age 56, and has already begun putting his responsibilities on the plates of execs around him in time for a June 1 retirement. He'll get the retirement benefits stated in his contract, which may or may not make the union guys unhappy -- we'll see.

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With the Securities and Exchange Commission a bit curious about some of General Motors' accounting practices as it relates to the automaker's price concessions negotiated with suppliers, Lear now finds itself on the receiving end of a subpoena of its financial records. Lear 'fessed up to its newfound role in the investigation last week, but received the Fed's request back in February.

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