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Car seatsPrint

Making cars a healthier place to be with the right seat

Mobility is a frequently used buzzword associated with present-day society. More and more people are spending increasing amounts of time in their car. The average European travels around 15,000 kilometres with his vehicle every year. 40% of motorists spend more than 90 minutes sitting in their car each day. For many drivers, their car seat is also their workplace.

Drivers travelling 20,000 km and more each year know only too well which health risks they face by sitting incorrectly for hours on end without any chance of compensatory exercise.

Adjustment is key

The list of possible problems is long. Those affected frequently complain of backache, tension, pains in the neck, fatigue, leg problems, aching shoulders, concentration deficits and headache.

Both AGR (Campaign for Healthier Backs) and the medical profession therefore stipulate that it must be possible to adjust the car seat to the body in the respective sitting position - and not vice versa. The best solution is a seat system that can be adjusted individually to the physical requirements of the driver or passenger, with as many adjustments as it takes to ensure the vehicle user is sitting in an optimum position.

Customers can expect help from manufacturers and dealers

Although leading car manufacturers have acknowledged the importance of ergonomic driving seats in recent years, many seats in vehicles by other manufacturers still fail to meet the basic ergonomic requirements. The car industry must pay special attention to "necessary seat ergonomics" and "correct seat adjustment" when developing the seats and when providing customer advice, and must give dealers and salesmen proper training about the special advantages. This is the only way to ensure that this important information is passed on to the customers, providing valuable help and assistance that goes way beyond performance KPIs and attractive wheel designs.

What matters: seat structure and adjustable backrest and seat surface

Comfort in a car seat is defined not by soft upholstery and cosy fabrics. On the contrary, here well-being involves firm foam and a complicated substructure for the seat.

The back rest should have an extremely robust, spine-friendly structure which, together with ergonomic padding, provides the upper body with optimum support

Individual adjustment is crucial both for the backrest and for the seat area. It must be possible to adjust the seat height, seat tilt and above all, the length of the seat area to individual needs. This is the only way obtain the correct distribution of sitting pressure, combined with the necessary comfort and a good view. Pronounced side supports in the back rest and seat area also prevent the body from sliding around and ensure an upright, relaxed posture.

Sitting climate and safety

And finally, good climatic attributes are necessary to ensure that the driver is neither too warm nor too cold in the seat. The answer consists in a clever climate system, seat heating and special fabrics. A whole range of safety standards have to be met for the passive safety of vehicle users.

It is particularly important for the driver to sit properly when driving the car – not only to avoid possible backache but also for comfort and safety. However, attention must also be paid to the ergonomic needs of the passengers on the front seat and at the rear.

Tips for adjusting the driver's seat correctly can be found below under "More information".

Seats in light-duty commercial vehicles

When it comes to light-duty commercial vehicles, here the same selection criteria apply as for car seats so that drivers and passengers should be provided with the same adjustment possibilities.

Retrofit seats

Ergonomic retrofit seats are an ideal solution for drivers who need an ergonomic car seat but don't necessarily want to purchase a new vehicle. The seats can be fitted in numerous vehicle models, providing comfort and safety for the users. All ergonomic requirements already described for ex-works car seats naturally also apply here too. The special feature here is that the retrofit seat can be removed on changing the vehicle.


  • The car seat must have a firm basic structure. This enhances safety and is also a requirement for back-friendly sitting. A basic structure that yields too much cannot provide sufficient support.
  • A back-friendly shape of the backrest and the foam components is necessary, and the backrest must also be high enough (backrest height = shoulder height). The occupant's back should not protrude above the backrest. A slight S-shape must be visible when seen from the side.
  • The side guidance elements for the seat cushion and backrest (side supports) make the driver feel secure while fixing the driver in the seat. Ideally, it should be possible to adjust the side guidance elements individually to the driver's body (e.g. width of the driver's back). But the significance of this aspect for good sitting is often overrated so that other important criteria are neglected as a result.
  • The lumbar spine must be supported extensively and individually with what is known as the 4-way* (forwards/backwards, up/down) lordosis or iliac crest support (= inflatable projection in the lower part of the backrest). The main support is given at the top, rear iliac crest (waistline). While driving, particularly during longer journeys, it is advisable to keep making small changes to the support and also to the backrest tilt. Regular breaks for exercise are even more important, helping the driver to relax and preventing fatigue.
  • In the interests of convenient handling, you should preferably include electric backrest adjustment when ordering your seat.
  • The headrest must be sufficiently adjustable in height or (for fully padded headrests) high enough. Adjustment of the headrests must permit correct and therefore safe positioning to the back of the head: upper edge headrest = top of the head, max. 3 cm space between headrest to back of the head. The only function of the headrest is to enhance safety; it should certainly not be used for support during the journey (this only applies to the driver) as otherwise this could lead to dangerous fatigue symptoms (momentary drowsiness).
  • Another absolutely vital feature is the individual adjustment of the seat height. This ensures that the field of vision is approximately the same for all users. Always sit as high as possible. Not just so you can see better, but also because of the pelvic positioning which is so important for spinal curvature.
  • Adjusting the angle of tilt of the seat surface ensures correct support for the thighs. The whole seat must offer sufficient scope for adjusting the length (at least 25 cm).
  • The adjustable length of the seat area (seat depth) permits correct adjustment to the length of the driver's thighs for optimum distribution of sitting pressure. The better the distribution of sitting pressure across buttocks and thigh support, the more pleasant driving will be, particularly on long journeys. Complete support for the thigh would be ideal, although it should be possible to fit 2 to 3 fingers between the seat and the back of the knee to avoid putting pressure on the back of the knee.
  • The optimum sitting climate can be achieved e.g. by a combination of seat heating, ventilation system and appropriate upholstery materials.

Additional comfort functions

  • Adjustment of the upper part of the backrest (backrest head) is appropriate. This permits optimum fine adjustment for supporting the shoulders.
  • An integrated massage function has a beneficial effect.
  • A dynamic seat system (side supports inflated when driving round bends for greater support) improves side support when driving round bends.
  • The so-called comfort headrest can be used to relieve the cervical spine temporarily during rest phases (breaks).
  • Automatic adjustment of the headrest heat in conjunction with the seat length adjustment can be used to adapt the headrest quickly and conveniently to the required height.

The following aspects also deserve your attention

  • Has your manufacturer carried out safety tests and crash tests with the car seat and have the results been verified?
  • Is prolonged testing of the seats in the vehicle possible?
  • Are the staff trained to offer thorough advice about the car seats?

Minimum requirements

  • Firm, back-friendly basic structure
  • Sufficient dimensions (back height, head rest, seat area)
  • Adjustment of seat height
  • Adjustment of seat tilt
  • Adjustment of seat length
  • Adjustment of seat area depth
  • Optimum adjustment of headrest
  • 4-way lordosis support
  • The vehicle controls must be in easy reach while driving

Also appropriate

  • Climate package (seat heating/ventilation)
  • Adjustment of the backrest head
  • Adjustable side supports in the backrest and seat area
  • Dynamic seat system
  • Massage function
  • Comfort headrest
  • Memory function

Products in this sector with the AGR seal of approval

    Seats in passenger cars and commercial vehicles


    Passenger Car seats

    Daimler AG


    DS Automobiles


    Ford Motor Company Limited.


    Hyundai Motor Company

    Opel Automobile GmbH


    Peugeot Motor Company PLC


    RECARO Automotive Seating



    • VW ergoActive driver's seat with 14-way adjustment for
    • VW ergoActive driver's and passenger seats with 18-way adjustment for VW Touareg
    • VW ergoActive driver's and passenger seats for VW Touran
    • VW ergoComfort driver's seat with 14-way adjustment for


    Commercial vehicle seats

    Daimler AG

    • Driver and front passenger seat with lumbar support for the new Sprinter
    • Driver and front passenger seat with lumbar support and seat comfort package for the new Sprinter

    Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

    • VW ergoComfort driver's and passenger seats with 14-way adjustment for new Amarok (light commercial vehicles)
    • VW ergoComfort suspension driver's and passenger seats with 14-way adjustment for new Crafter (commercial vehicles)


    Daimler AG
    Daimler Customer Assistance Center N.V.
    Postfach 1456
    6201 BL Maastricht
    Phone 00800/17 77 77 77
    Fax +49 69/95 30 72 55
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    DS Automobiles
    Pinley House
    2 Sunbeam Way
    West Midlands
    CV3 1ND
    Phone +44800/8778455

    Hyundai Motor Company Headquarter
    12, Heolleung-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea
    Phone +82-2-3464-1114
    Fax: +82-2-3464-3477

    Opel Automobile GmbH
    Vauxhall Motors UK
    Griffin House, UK1-101-135, Osborne Road,
    Luton, Bedfordshire LU1 3YT
    Phone: +49 844-369-0112
    Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am - 5:30pm
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    PEUGEOT Motor Company PLC
    Phone 0800/042 2422

    RECARO Automotive Seating
    Stuttgarter Straße 73
    73230 Kirchheim/Teck
    Phone +49 7021/93 50 00
    Fax +49 7021/93 53 39
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Volkswagen UK
    Volkswagen Passenger Cars
    Selectapost 12
    S97 3ZU - UK
    Phone +49 800/333 666

    Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles
    30419 Hannover
    Phone +49 1802/865 579 243 6
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Further information

    Caution, safety!

    Even the most ergonomic seat is no good if it fails to comply with the safety standards. Time and again, crash tests prove that 6 of 10 car seats offer insufficient protection in the event of a rear impact, because of their structure, dimensions and headrest (source: Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft - Association of the German Insurance Industry). A revision of the European ECE standard by legislators is vitally necessary, as demanded by the German insurance industry.

    Correctly adjusted car seat

    Besides poor ergonomic quality of car seats, another frequent cause for backache and tension when driving the car is the wrong sitting posture. For an orthopaedically correct sitting posture, the car seat has to be carefully adjusted. In turn, this means it needs to have the characteristics and functions detailed above.

    Ideal adjustment of your car seat:

    1. Move your buttocks right up against the backrest of the seat. Now adjust your seat so that your legs are at a slight angle when you floor the pedals.
    2. The tilt of the backrest must allow you to hold the steering wheel with your arms at a slight angle. To achieve this, adjust the backrest to an angle of about 110 degrees. Make sure that your shoulders remain in contact with the backrest even when steering.
    3. If the backrest has a head adjustment, only change this if the normal shape of the backrest does not give your shoulders enough support. Less is more in this context.
    4. Now select the right seat height for you. Sit as high as possible, while still leaving a hand's breadth of space between your head and the roofliner.
    5. Adjust the seat tilt so that your thighs rest gently on the seat surface and you can floor the pedals without having to apply too much force.
    6. After adjusting the seat length, you should still be able to fit 2 to 3 fingers between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees.
    7. Adjust the headrest so that it protects your head but does not support your neck. If the setting of the headrest is too low, this can cause severe injuries to the head and cervical spine in the event of a rear-impact crash. Ideal: upper edge headrest = top of the head.
    8. If the backrest and seat surface have adjustable side supports, ensure that these are in gentle contact with the body without being constrictive.
    9. The natural shape of your lumbar spine is supported by the lordosis support. Always adjust this from bottom to top. The pelvis (belt line) is the most important area for support.

    Check all the settings again in the same order. Then the seat will fit correctly.


    • Only a rested car driver drives safely.
    • After ninety minutes or at the latest 2 hours behind the steering wheel, it is vital to take a break to give body and mind a chance to regenerate and exercise.
    • Even the best car seat is just one component on your journey to a back-friendly everyday life.
    • The position and adjustment of the seat can change the perspective for people wearing multi- or bifocal glasses, with a negative impact on their eyesight.



    Significance of the car seat

    One seat for all people?

    Comfortable sitting ex works

    Chain of angles

    Ergonomics for all passengers

    Ergonomic sitting even more comfortable

    Individual setting