Company executives also have questioned Adient's $360 m purchase of seat maker Futuris Group in 2017. Futuris was founded in Australia in 1967. It produces seats and other components for several Chinese automakers.
It also supplied Tesla, Ford and GM in North America, and Adient was counting on it to target new-age West Coast EV start-ups. That turned out to be a bad bet after Tesla decided to make its seats internally.
'We've been a little distracted,' said Adient's chief technology officer, Detlef Juerss, during a 30 July industry presentation in Traverse City, Michigan. 'We're now transitioning to a focus on the day-to-day business ... not just the finer things in life.'
Those day-to-day problems include high scrappage rates, rising steel costs and glitchy product launches. Adient's seat structures and mechanisms division has suffered chronic losses.
Distress in the Segment
'There has been a ton of distress in the segment,' Wybo said. 'The suppliers have been beating each other up on price. It's just one of those product lines with too much competition.'
The seatmaker has some strengths. The company is profitable in China, and its 33% share of the global seat industry gives it access to virtually every major automaker.
But Adient has struggled to regain momentum since it was spun off from Johnson Controls in 2016. And as auto sales in the US and China are starting to stagnate, Adient's turnaround may prove difficult.
You can reach David Sedgwick at [email protected]
This story first appeared in Automotive News.