Alcantara Material In Shortage As World Demand Exceeds Supply
Alcantara. The name itself exudes a certain exotic feeling, and when you have it layered in your car, you feel like you’ve got it made.
It is in such high demand worldwide that its namesake, Alcantara S.p.A, founded in 1972 and manufactures and markets the material, has turned down almost 20% of business because it, at present, makes only about 8.75 million yards per year.
2018 Lexus LC500h with its interior adorned in Alcantara. Image credit – www.motorauthority.com
Alcantara is a synthetic material, made from polyurethane, polyester and microfibers, which has become increasingly popular among automakers for the interiors of cars they produce.
Alcantara Chairman and CEO Andrea Boragno posing with a giant Alcantara shoe.
Image credit – http://www.motortrend.ca
Alcantara key case. Image credit – https://www.suncoastparts.com/
Pleasant to the touch, it remains warm in cold weather and cool in hotter temperatures. It is not just used for seats and headliners, but increasingly on dashboards, doors, gearshifts, steering wheels and trim.
Requests from other sectors—e.g for iPhone covers, luxury yachts, planes, the fashion industry, and interior design—has increased the demand. Microsoft promoted its Surface Pro 4 laptop with this ‘lifestyle’ material whilst Samsung Electronics has used Alcantara material in cases of Galaxy S8, S8+ and Galaxy Note 8.
Samsung Galaxy S9 with Alcantara cover. Image credit.
With the increasing demand, Chairman & CEO Andrea Boragno has announced a US$368 million investment to double Alcantara production over the next five years. He wants to increase penetration so that more vehicles roll off the line with the material, with cost on par with leather, creating less waste and is 50% lighter.
In addition to being easy to clean and use, the material can be processed into various colours and thicknesses through customisation. It has flame retardant, antibacterial and waterproof qualities. (Like manna from heaven.)
With animal rights activists calling for the ban of anything that involves animals, this further differentiates Alcantara from its main competitor, natural leather. Boragno bluntly said, “We don’t kill animals and our raw materials are polymers.”
Boragno also said Lamborghini shaves off 11 pounds by using the material, and in an industry fighting to reduce every ounce of weight to improve fuel economy, that’s really an advantage.
80% of the Alcantara’s business is in the automotive sector, out of which 60% of sales comes from Europe, 30% from Asia Pacific and 10% from U.S.
Let’s hope the cost of this magical material goes down even further, so we can all enjoy this alluring Alcantara.
Image credit – www.hotcars.com