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Q&A: Adient CEO Doug Del Grosso on New Directions for Seat Makers

“I think cultural competence will become much more important over time for doing all kinds of business in America,” Hall said. With more and more joint ventures being established by other companies, having a proven track record is important for long-term sustainability and growth.”

With sustainability in mind, Adient is also changing the way we think about EVs. The conventional wisdom is that every car needs a seat, regardless of what’s under the hood. So the seat business is insulated from change. But Del Grosso has changed his mind about it. A recent trip to his show at Shanghai Motor gave a keen sense of the magnitude of change in the industry.

“What I saw in Shanghai was a tidal wave of new products that were very different from the ICE[conventional internal combustion engine]vehicles they were replacing,” he said.

“When you fill a vehicle with batteries, it takes up less space inside, so you basically have to condense the seating system to offset the space it takes up. significantly reduced and increased alternative seating materials…”

The result will be a surge in research and development to meet the rapidly changing demands of traditional automakers and new entrants.

Below are details from the interview with Del Grosso, summarized and edited for clarity.

  • Over the past two years, supply chain fluctuations and negotiations regarding contractual terms between OEMs and suppliers have been well documented. How did those discussions evolve?

It’s not that much of an issue, but it’s not happening at the same level it was a year ago, and it makes it harder to talk to customers because they don’t feel accountable. I think the problem from my point of view was, at worst, it actually created an almost toxic work environment for us to operate in. We had a very high turnover rate. People literally didn’t want to work in the auto sector just because of the volatility involved. I’m not sure OE fully understood how difficult the situation was, maybe he saw it in his own factory, but he understands how pervasive it is in his chain of supply I didn’t.

  • What do you think is the biggest problem right now?

I think labor is the biggest challenge we’re all going through right now, whether it’s labor cost or labor, especially on the part of skilled workers. I think that’s a real challenge, just for our domestic industrial base. When it comes to cars, I think it’s traditionally a very disciplined working environment…and we’re competing in other areas that are less disciplined. Amazon warehouse. It’s more flexibility. Q&A: Adient CEO Doug Del Grosso on New Directions for Seat Makers

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