No animals are killed in the production process of the material.
An ever-increasing number of products are using new and luxury materials in the automotive industry today to attract new clients. Take the Alcantara covering microfiber material for example, its popularity is growing literally every day and is now not limited only to premium models – you can find it in more mainstream vehicles like Volkswagen, Ford, and Renault. And while in the recent past it was used mainly for seats and headliners, it’s now covering more and more dashboards, doors, gearshifts, and steering wheels, and is also used for luxury yachts and planes. This trend leads to a phenomenon – the Alcantara production can’t keep up with the demand from the manufacturers.
The Alcantara as a material is manufactured by Alcantara S.p.A., an Italian company, which is turning down as much as 20 percent contracts with potential customers and is preparing to double its production with a $368-million investment into its facility in Milan. The firm’s CEO and chairman, Andrea Boragno, predicts the synthetic material will continue to expand its penetration into non-premium models.
The material was developed in the early 1970s by a scientist working for the Japanese chemical company Toray Industries. It was based on a technology that was already used for another product from the company - an advanced spinning process combined with chemical and textile production processes. This basic tech hasn’t changed much since the 70s, but the Italian supplier has drastically increased the number of available colors and textures.
Some of the main advantages of the Alcantara are that it is generally 50 percent lighter than leather (ask Lamborghini if that’s important…), more durable, has better grip, breathes better, and is warm in winter and cool in summer. “We don’t kill animals and our raw materials are polymers,” Boragno also adds. Tuning companies love it because of its customization suitability.