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Autoshow 2017 insights | Adient AI17 Demonstrator

Our first stop at the NAIAS Detroit Autoshow this year was at the Adient showroom. We were invited to tour the showroom by the Adient Studio Team based in Plymouth, Michigan. We were absolutely blown away with the demonstrator produced by Adient and their key suppliers.

In interest of full disclosure, we were the design and studio engineering resource on the 20% armrest housed in the second-row seating. Although we had seen the rest of the demonstrator in development at the build house, this was our first glimpse into the design thinking on display at Cobo Hall. Wow!

The AI17 demonstrator is a benchmark example of the advanced development of concepts by cross-discipline teams working on different continents. Adient is the leading supplier of seating to the automotive market with development centers and manufacturing facilities around the world. At a time when the cost pressures continue to increase from the OEMs, Adient remains committed to the advancement of seating with a laser focus on the end users, drivers and passengers. A little more about the AI17…

According to Richard Chung, Adient’s vice president of innovation, the AI17 showcases innovative solutions for level-3 and level-4 autonomous vehicles that forecast how enjoyable future interiors will be.

“Based on extensive market and consumer research, the products in the demonstrator have been carefully designed with a modular approach to accommodate a wide range of vehicles and enable differentiation by segment,” said Chung.

This simply means that the concepts shown at Autoshow will be applied to future vehicles. Show properties, demonstrators and concept cars are the very best ways to illicit open feedback, refine concepts and identify future production opportunities. Significant insights can be harvested in the chaos of a industry event. As they say, you must be present to win. Adient is leading the way in the ongoing investment in advanced concepts and support of industry events.

The concept is centered on the passengers and somewhat passive pilots of future autonomous vehicles. Adient did deep and serious research to identify the needs, wants and desires of the end- customer while being cognizant of future trends in autonomous vehicles. Research is key to any design brief and they really did their homework before diving into ideation. This type of work can only be done by like-minded creative, technical and business professionals working together. It also requires a bit of capital.

The genius of the AI17 concept is show-cased in the different use modes, UI (user interaction) of controls, material selection, fit and finish of all components and consideration of human factors. At first glance or review it is an impossibly simple show property. The nuances and intricacies are only realized through, well, a guided demonstration of the demonstrator. We were lucky to be included in the event and experience the concept first hand. Again, wow!

This project was lead and managed by the Adient Studio team based in Plymouth, Michigan working with teams in Germany and Grand Haven, Michigan. Our contribution to the overall project was the development of the 20% armrest in the second row. We acted as an extension of the Adient Studio team and interface with Special Projects, also based in Plymouth, Michigan, during fabrication, assembly and integration of the armrest in the second-row seats.

Our overall experience with the Adient team has been excellent over the span of decades and numerous projects. We collectively learn on every project and we’ve agreed to meet for a debrief after the dust settles. The AI17 is being prepped for a bit of a road show to continue to gather OEM feedback for application to future production programs. The cycle repeats.

We are excited about our work with Team Adient for Autoshow 2018! A world of thanks to Adient for allowing us to share this story!

Maury Fredricks


Fredricks Design, Inc.

About Adient:

Adient is a global leader in automotive seating.With 75,000 employees operating 230 manufacturing/assembly plants in 33 countries worldwide, we produce and deliver automotive seating for all vehicle classes and all major OEMs. From complete seating systems to individual components, our expertise spans every step of the automotive seat-making process. Our integrated, in-house skills allow us to take our products from research and design all the way to engineering and manufacturing, and into more than 25 million vehicles every year. For more information on Adient, please visit

About Fredricks:

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation , feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks focuses on key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, and consumer products markets.


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