Here’s a questions we’ve been getting for years here at MF. While the answer hasn’t changed, we thought it might be appropriate the revisit the subject for some of the newer MINI owners. The question comes from Steve M:
>Do you know if we will ever get the Recaro seats here in the States?
Unfortunately the problem lies in the US requirement (which started in 2005) for passenger side airbag sensors. The sensors take the place of the on/off switch some markets have that allow small children (or small people) to ride safely in the front seats. Essentially what the sensors do is make the entire question of whether the airbag should be on or off idiot proof.
When Recaro (and Sparco – the manufacturer of the original JCW seats for the R50/R53) designed the seats a few years back, they didn’t take the need for an airbag sensor into consideration and thus it’s simply not in the seats. And while they could create some unique seats for the MINI, the costs associated with doing that would be too high for such a small volume.
Because of this lack of airbag sensors in the passenger seat, the current seats will not be offered in the US market. However it is assumed Recaro will eventually be making seats with the sensor. We just wouldn’t bet on it until the next generation MINI.
[ R56 JCW Recaro Seats Install Guide ] Official MINI PDF