Spin-off brings growth opportunities

Adient wants to make seats not just for cars, but also trains and aircraft.

Testing seats at the Trenčín Technological Centre.Testing seats at the Trenčín Technological Centre. (Source: Courtesy of Adient)

The spin-off of Johnson Controls’ former automotive seating and interiors business, to form a separate entity, Adient, should bring new growth opportunities to its facilities in Slovakia. These include also the country’s biggest automotive technology centre, located in Trenčín. While it is focusing on the latest trends, like autonomous driving, which promise to completely transform car interiors, Adient says it also wants to enter the markets for rail and aircraft seating.

“Our vision is that we want to improve the experience of a world in motion,” said Frank Toenniges, executive director of the technology centre in Trenčín, in mid-October, prior to the official spin-off on October 31. “And I am not talking only about cars.”

Why Adient was created

Over the years, the automotive business has been a growth engine for Johnson Controls, David Roznowski, spokesman for Adient, explained in Trenčín in mid-October. However, over recent years the automotive business became a cash constraint, because Johnson Controls has been investing more in other sectors like building efficiency and power systems. So Johnson Controls International thought it would be more advantageous to spin off the automotive business into a separate, publicly traded company with its own board of directors and its own management team, which could invest appropriately to grow the business.

“So that gives us better access to capital, more opportunity to invest into innovations and is just a great opportunity for us, as Adient,” said Roznowski.

Adient now has 230 facilities in 33 countries, employing 75,000 people. Of these, eight facilities are located in six towns across Slovakia, employing over 4,000 people. This makes it the biggest supplier of car components in Slovakia, and its centre in Trenčín is the biggest automotive technology centre in the country.

Technology centre in Trenčín

The story of the Trenčín centre started in 2003 when Johnson Controls was looking for a location for a new technology base. Apart from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Hungary were also considered as possible sites.

“At that time, automotive production in Slovakia was around 200,000 vehicles per year,” said Toenniges, recalling that at that time, only the Slovak arm of Germany’s Volkswagen was manufacturing cars in Slovakia. In the same year, 2003, PSA Peugeot Citroën announced it was setting up a manufacturing plant in Trnava.

Slovakia was chosen by Johnson Controls in what turned out to be a close competition with the Czech Republic.

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