Modern luxury and performance car interiors are often trimmed with a synthetic suede-like material called Alcantara. You've probably heard of it, but what you probably didn't realize is that it all comes from one Italian company, also called Alcantara. And that the company can't make enough for everyone who wants it.
Pictured above: the Alcantara-lined door panel of the Lexus LC500.
The Alcantara plant outside Milan can only make 8 million meters of its faux-suede per year, which has forced CEO Andrea Borgano to turn down 20 percent of potential buisness. To remedy this, Alcantara is investing €300 million (around $370 million) to double its production capacity.
Beginning in 2009, auto-industry use of Alcantara increased by 15 percent each year, but it saw a 35-percent spike in 2015. That overwhelmed the Italian company, leading it to invest heavily in its manufacturing capacity.
Borgano told Motor Trend that the material is popular in cars because it's lighter and breathes better than leather. It's also more durable, and it provides more grip, which is crucial in performance cars.
It's worth noting that Alcantara isn't the only company making fake suede for the auto industry. GM uses its own "Microsuede," while Mercedes sources a similar material from Italian company Dinamica. But, Alcantara has become the Kleenex of suede-like interior trimming, and its growth doesn't seem to be slowing down. Expect to see a lot more from Alcantara in the coming years.