History of RECARO
From master saddler to global player.
The story of success behind today’s RECARO Automotive Seating began in 1906 in Stuttgart, when 32-year-old master saddler Wilhelm Reutter founded a coachbuilding company to specialise in luxury vehicles, motor cars and English coach harnesses, "Reutter, Wilhelm, Sattler. Spezialität: Luxus- und Motorwagen, englische Geschirre". The company quickly made a name for itself in the up-and-coming automobile industry, which was predominantly based in Stuttgart: Bosch, Maybach and Daimler were the big names making history back then, laying the foundations that made the city the centre of automotive excellence that it is today.
The master saddler’s business flourished and in 1910 changed its trading name to "Stuttgarter Karosseriewerk Reutter & Co" (Stuttgart Coachworks Reutter & Co.). The young master saddler was innovative and open-minded towards the new form of mobility. In 1912, for example, his workshop produced the patented Reutter’s Reform Coach Body, a forerunner of the modern cabriolet.
Reutter made coach bodies for Daimler-Benz, Horch and many companies, whose names have long since been forgotten. Not forgotten, however, are several other icons of the car-making industry, in whose success Reutter played an integral part.
In 1935, Professor Ferdinand Porsche had the prototypes of the Volkswagen (later called the "Beetle") built at the Reutter workshops and the two companies also worked together closely after the War. From 1949, Reutter produced the bodies for the legendary Porsche 356 – and thus became known around the globe. The company also worked for BMW and the German Post Office, Deutsche Post. The BMW 328 sports car’s body was made at the Reutter factory, as were bodies custom-built to Post Office specifications.
The basis for today’s company was formed in 1963, when Porsche ceased having its car bodies made by Reutter and took the operation in house. Reutter then changed its trading name to RECARO, created from a play on the words REutter and CAROsserie (vehicle body). The new company specialised in the manufacture of seats and seat components. The first RECARO sports seat was unveiled in 1965 and in motor racing circles RECARO quickly became an acclaimed brand.
In 1969, a rival company, KEIPER, bought RECARO and initially passed on equal one-third shareholdings to two other companies, Hubbert & Wagner and Metzeler. In 1983, KEIPER then ultimately took ownership of all RECARO shares. Under the umbrella of KEIPER RECARO GmbH & Co. KG, the firm produced innovative Recaro concepts for factory-fitted car seats, for the retrofit market and from 1971 – under the name "RECARO aircomfort" – also for aircraft.
In 1997, as a result of a group restructure, RECARO GmbH & Co. KG again became a stand-alone automotive division. Sister company RECARO Aircraft Seating GmbH & Co. KG concentrated on aircraft seats. Another sister company, Keiper GmbH & Co. KG operated globally as an automotive supplier, offering seat structures, metal components and development services relating to all aspects of vehicle seating. In 2010, RECARO home GmbH & Co. KG was set up as a stand-alone company for upholstered furniture (since closed by brand owner the RECARO Group).
In June 2011, US group Johnson Controls took over Keiper GmbH & Co. KG and RECARO Automotive GmbH & Co. KG. Johnson Controls, as licensee of the RECARO brand in the automotive sector, thereby acquired exclusive, unrestricted rights for the global marketing of RECARO seats for cars and commercial vehicles. All other RECARO brand companies now belong to the RECARO Group, Stuttgart, which is the owner of the brand and licensor for RECARO Automotive Seating. On 31st October 2016, Johnson Controls transferred its complete car business into Adient, a new, quoted company, making it the world's largest producer and supplier of car seats. RECARO Automotive Seating has since then been a product group of Adient, which continues to use the brand name under licence.