Makers are releasing lightweight models with upgraded features.
China car and bus seat manufacturers are emphasizing enhanced comfort and functionality. Many suppliers are also rolling out lightweight variants for ease of use.
|This bus seat from BYH comes with a tray table.|
Ergonomic and trendy designs headline the latest racing car seats from Ningbo Better Design Industry Co. Ltd and Fujian Lano Industry Co. Ltd. The models enwrap the passenger’s body and come with a slider and backrest angle adjuster. Ningbo Better also plans to develop options with heating and massage features. Fujian Lano has versions in aluminum magnesium for a lighter alternative.
BYH (Kunshan) Trading Co. Ltd tries to merge comfort and usability in the 8083 model, which has a steel frame, genuine leather cover, and highly resilient and fire-retardant foam cushion. It boasts an adjustable armrest, a stepless gas spring recliner, a tray table, a magazine net and a cup holder. An LED screen, an A/V system and a leg rest are optional.
Racing car seats from Danyang Eastern Motor Vehicle Accessories & Hardware Co. Ltd are fitted with racing simulator accessories for driver training. The DFYXZ-06 model, which has an adjustable back and slide bottom, comes with a gear shifter holder on the left or right side, single or triple screen stands, and an aluminum alloy pedal. Both seat and frame are foldable. The latest racing simulators from the maker have accessories that are lighter but easier to adjust.
Several companies concentrate on niche sectors. Shenzhen Rousing Enterprise Ltd offers universal golf car seats. BYH carries regular and luxury designs for buses and coaches, rolling out four new models a year.
To boost efficiency, some businesses are developing manufacturing systems, purchasing machinery to enhance output and quality. Jintan Jinpeng Auto Seats Co. Ltd procured seven sets of a Japan-made welding robot worth $150,000 to speed up frame welding. Two sets of foam machines valued at $300,000 were imported from Singapore to increase stability and foaming quality while reducing scrap rate. The enterprise also set up automatic lines for cutting and sewing seat covers, and adopted Taiwan-made equipment for impact tests.
Makers foresee a moderate increase in exports this year. Shipments during thefirst half hit nearly 1.3 million pieces, 10 percent higher YoY. The US was the top destination, followed by Japan. These areas accounted for 32 and 8 percent of deliveries, respectively.
Notwithstanding stable sales, local manufacturers admit they trail international leaders technology-wise. Johnson Controls, for example, has developed car seats with an active head restraint, which lifts the headrest and protects the passenger’s head and neck in the event of a collision. Some units pack active anti-submarining features to ensure seat belts and airbags operate properly and the user is prevented from sliding forward.
To follow “green” trends, Lear adopts four layers of environment-friendly materials instead of the traditional PU foam. The first panel uses 100 percent recyclable EPP. Two layers employ soy foam, which has 67 percent less VOC emission than the PU counterpart. The last sheet has textile or leather, with the former in polyester fiber extracted from scrap materials. The eco-friendly seat is 50 percent lighter than usual types.
China’s 700 suppliers offer various kinds of car and bus seats. Related parts are also available.
Seats from the industry are priced 20 to 50 percent lower than international counterparts. This is despite the 5 to 10 percent markup implemented in recent months due to rising material costs and the yuan’s appreciation. The Q235, a type of steel for the seat frame, climbed to $746 per ton in August. This was 2 percent less than the peak level in February but still 10 percent higher than 2010 rates.
Prices are expected to remain stable in the next six months.
Buyers will find a widening range of car seats in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, the production hubs of the line. Half of the manufacturers in these areas are foreign-invested companies. Five to 10 percent of suppliers are state-owned.
Passenger car seats: Models consist of frames, headrests, cushions, covers, recliners, seat belts, slide guides and other accessories. Some seats for SUVs and MPVs are equipped with armrests.
Most low-end variants go for $50 to $200 per piece, and are used in compact cars and minivans. These employ manual adjusting systems, iron or steel frames, foam cushions, and covers in polyester, PU or PVC. The padding can be cold or warm foam. The first is more popular because of its ability to maintain the original shape.
Midrange models are made of the same materials as low-end kinds but are larger to fit bigger vehicles. Some incorporate genuine leather covers and electric adjustment systems. Heating function is enabled in other versions. Prices range from $210 to $800. Upscale variants adopt better-quality inputs such as aluminum or magnesium alloy frames and environment-friendly foam cushions.
Active head restraint and anti-submarining protection systems are incorporated. Additional heating and massage functions, and an LCD or LED screen at the back can be installed. These types are suited for high-end vehicles and may exceed $2,000 per piece.
Racing car seats: Most products in the line are for export, particularly to countries with mature automotive modification markets. The US, the EU and Australia are among the usual destinations.
Models employ iron or steel frames and polyester, PVC or PU covers. Many have an adjustable back, a slider and a seat belt slot. The cushions feature a rising contour on both sides to enwrap the rider. Manual adjustment is used.
These are available from $50 to $100 each. Variants with racing simulator accessories such as a steering wheel, a gear shifter holder, a screen stand and pedals are between $100 and $150.
Bus seats: Versions for drivers and passengers are offered, with the latter dominating supply.
Economic models comprise one-piece blow-molded parts in PE and ABS, and with iron or steel legs for durability. Some kinds have plastic or fabric pads in the middle of the back and bottom’s surface for added comfort. These are available from $12 to $50 per piece.
Going for $60 to $260 per set, midrange types have iron or steel frames and legs, a foam cushion, a footrest, and PU or PVC covers. Other accessories include a seat belt, a handle, an armrest and a mesh bookbag.
High-end passenger seats are suitable for luxury buses and coaches. These have basic structures similar to midpriced ones but boast enhanced functionality.
Models are 20 to 50 percent larger in size and pack thick and high-resilience cushions, fully electric control systems, stepless gas spring recliners and leg rests. They incorporate LED screens, A/V systems, and heating and massage functions. Quotes may go above $2,500 per piece.
Bus drivers’ seats have the same configuration as versions for passengers but with an additional shock-absorbing base that can be a mechanical or air-suspension type. The first is more advanced and is therefore used in midrange and high-end models.
Seats for bus drivers are about 30 percent more expensive than those for passengers.
Note: This article "User comfort, add-ons top agenda in car & bus seats" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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