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Lear sets timeline for automotive connectivity technology

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learSeating and electrical component supplier Lear Corp. is pushing to become a player in automotive connectivity technology.

Following the acquisition last year of automotive connectivity firms Arada Systems Inc. and Autonet Mobile Inc., Lear is moving forward under Arada’s founder Praveen Singh, a longtime entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and now vice president of Lear’s connectivity business, with plans to connect the car with the world around it.

In an interview here with Crain’s Detroit Business at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars, Singh said Lear is only a few years away from offering a completely integrated modular unit to customers that connects vehicles to infrastructure, other vehicles and the cloud. The unit will be modular enough to upgrade the hardware easily, focused on security and software capable of over-the-air updates.

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The city of Detroit will play a major role in Lear’s success, or failure, in the connectivity space.

Arada’s infrastructure tech is the primary component in the 125-mile test-bed of installations from I-96 near General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds, I-94 from Ann Arbor to metro Detroit, U.S. 23 from Ann Arbor to Brighton, and elsewhere. Its systems also are used in downtown Detroit.

“Detroit is the only downtown in the country with a network deployment,” Singh said. “We’re currently looking to work with the city on creating connected buses, etc.”
Capitalizing on the Michigan Department of Transportation’s investment downtown plays well into Lear’s recent strategy of taking a Silicon Valley approach.

Lear will open an innovation and design centre in downtown Detroit. The supplier plans to house an automotive innovation unit, a nonautomotive business incubator, think tank, creative design studio, an art gallery, Lear executive satellite offices, conference and meeting space and a rooftop garden.

“If we look at the tech that’s going to come out of that location,” Singh said. “I’m from Silicon Valley, but I want to see that disruptive technology coming from Detroit.
Part of Singh’s team will move to the location when it opens, he said.


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Lear Corp.Praveen Singh
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