Founding and beginnings
Founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Reutter as Reutter Carosserie-Werke, the company became known for building limousine bodies during the 1920s. In 1930 they started producing bodies for the Volkswagen Beetle, and in 1949 Porsche began engaging the company to build their Porsche 356 sports car bodies.
Sports seats in Gemballa GTR 600 Evo
Move from car bodies to racing seats
Due to new manufacturing methods, the market for car bodies went downhill in the 1950s, and Reutter found itself on hard times.
In 1963, Porsche acquired the car body factory. What remained was renamed to Recaro GmbH & Co, changing its focus to high-end seats. The company began producing both OEM seats for Porsche, and a separate line of aftermarket seats. In 1969, the Reutter family sold their ownership to three companies, Keiper, Huber & Wagner and Metzeler, due to economic problems. In 1983, Keiper purchased all shares in Recaro and established Keiper Recaro GmbH & Co in Kirchheim (Teck) near Esslingen am Neckar.
Recaro changed their name in 1990. In their home country of Germany, the name was to change to RECARO GmbH & Co. KG. Operations expanded as they established Recaro North America Inc at Oakland, Michigan, Recaro UK Ltd in Birmingham, Recaro South East Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Recaro Japan Co Ltd in Kyoto, and Recaro France in La Rochelle.
Meanwhile, Recaro seats could be seen in a variety of cars, ranging from the Aston Martin V03, the Audi S and RS models, the legendary Ford Escort RS Cosworth, to the New Beetle RSi. A side-airbag seat was added to the Recaro line.
The company also manufactures wheelchairs, as well as seats for aircraft and airlines, automotive children seats, and for the Shinkansen train in Japan. Its seats are used in the VIP lounges and substitute box at European football stadiums.
Recaro seats are also used in the Leopard 2 MBT.
Recaro also manufactures seats for the dugouts of some of Europe’s top football clubs including Manchester United, Reading, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Hércules, VfB Stuttgart, Benfica and West Ham United.
The Dutch company Sun Marine Seats manufacture Recaro Maritime boat seats.
In June 2011 Recaro sold the automotive seating division to the US automotive supplier Johnson Controls. The acquisition gives Johnson Controls, as licensee of the RECARO brand in the automotive industry, the exclusive unlimited right to market Recaro seats for cars and commercial vehicles. All other brand companies now belong to RECARO Group, Stuttgart, which is the brand owner and licensor of RECARO Automotive Seating.
Recaro also manufactures seats for airliners; demand has grown, with output reaching 70,000 seats in 2010, so Recaro plans to increase capacity. In 2010, Recaro developed a slimline seat for airlines in conjunction with Lufthansa; Lufthansa have ordered 32000, and other airlines have ordered a further 6000. Other significant customers include Alitalia, Air France, KLM, United Airlines, American Airlines, Croatia Airlines, JetBlue Airways, AirTran Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Air New Zealand.
Recaro’s primary competitors in the airline seating business include Acro Aircraft Seating, Zodiac Seats U.S., Zodiac Seats France, Aviointeriors, BE Aerospace, Expliseat, and Thompson Aero Seating.