By Mary Connelly, Automotive News reporterWindsor, Ontario-The supplier of Chrysler group’s innovative Stow ‘n’ Go minivan seating system, in which both the second and third rows of seats fold easily below the floor, may sell similar seats to competitors. Richard Banfield, president of Intier Automotive’s seating group, said his company does not own all Stow ‘n’ Go patents but enough to provide similar seats to other automakers. Chrysler is counting on Stow ‘n’ Go seats to boost its minivan sales this year. The Honda Odyssey and other minivan competitors have gained ground on Chrysler in recent years with fold-flat seats but only in the third row. Other automakers have made overtures to Intier, Banfield said at a Chrysler press event here last week. But he declined to name those automakers or comment on whether Intier is negotiating with them.”Most of it happened after the [Detroit] auto show,” Banfield said. In January, Chrysler group unveiled its 2005 minivans with Stow ‘n’ Go seats: the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country. The vehicles went on sale in February. In 2003, minivans represented 17.6 percent of Chrysler US sales, totaling 374 494 units. Banfield would not specify which parts of the seating system are proprietary to Chrysler group and which to Intier. “It could work on SUVs and crossovers,” he said. A competitor would be unlikely to get a new seating system to market before summer 2005, Banfield added.”
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