DETROIT -- Lear Corp. CEO Matt Simoncini believes a new design and innovation center opened here today will give the company an advantage as a supplier and designer of advanced seating and electronics technologies.
The center, housed in a 129-year-old former cigar factory that Lear bought and refurbished for $10 million, will serve as a design center and technology incubator. The company is the 10th largest supplier on the Automotive News global suppliers list, with sales of $18.2 billion last year.
“For me this is a competitive advantage recognizing this trend in design and creativity that’s happening right here in Detroit,” said Simoncini, a Detroit native.
He said Lear will use the center to work on advance concepts for vehicles three to seven years away from production. Design and development of production projects will continue at Lear’s nearby Southfield, Mich., headquarters and other development centers around the world.
Simoncini said advanced seating design and applications for vehicle-to-vehicle communications and hybrid electric vehicles will be at the root of the r&d at the site.
He paid special attention to the role of a vehicle’s seat in connectivity, saying it could come into play during a crash as it absorbs energy, adjusts the driver’s spine appropriately or sends biometrics to an ambulance afterward.
“Intelligent seating is a game-changer,” Simoncini said. “We’re in pre-production with several car companies. I would expect certain aspects in three years, such as dynamic adjustment. That would put you in proper position for a person of your size and weight.”