Volkswagen is looking for a partner for its Sitech seating business to share development costs for new technologies.
Thomas Schmall, head of VW Group Components division, sees a chance for Sitech to develop seating solutions for autonomous cars, where occupants may not be in the conventional position facing forward when a crash occurs.
"It sounds simple, just some upholstery really, but a car seat is actually a complex product," Schmall said.
"We are currently sifting through the market in the search for a partner for Sitech that can help us acquire the necessary expertise," he told Automotive News Europe.
Schmall said VW does not plan to exit the seating business but rather place its Sitech subsidiary on a more solid financial foundation.
A Sitech partnership could follow the example of the VW's cooperation with Japanese supplier NSK. VW and NSK in June announced a development partnership between their steering divisions.
Analysts have criticized VW’s insistence to maintain ownership over Sitech at a time when interior suppliers such as Johnson Controls International hived off its seating business, which is now trades as Adient.
The automotive seating market's major players include Adient along with Lear, Faurecia and Toyota Boshoku. Analysts estimate the global seating market was worth $78 billion last year.
Sitech employs 5,300 people and manufactures seats and seating components in seven factories in Germany, Poland and China. It is one of VW Group Components' five business fields and is headed by Ingo Fleischer.