Alcantara is not just a soft, suede-like material used as a leather replacement in premium vehicles. It’s also the name of the company that manufactures the material, which now claims it can’t currently keep up with the growing demand for the stuff. Oh no, what about my soft cars?
The Italian manufacturing company behind the Alcantara material, Alcantara SpA, claims it has to turn down 20 percent of potential new business due to the massive demand for its fuzzy synthetic material, according to Motor Trend. If you are just now learning that there is no naturally lime-green leather, I am sorry.
Here’s more from Motor Trend:
All this means Alcantara can’t meet demand—especially with more orders from America and China—and Boragno said he is turning away as much as 20 percent new business because his plant in Milan can only make 8 million meters a year. The U.S. accounts for 10 percent of global sales while Europe’s share stands at more than 60 percent, while Asia Pacific and other emerging markets account for nearly 30 percent.
The company, which was founded in 1972, has seen net sales triple from 64.3 million euros ($78.8 million) in 2009 when it was hurt by the recession, to 187.2 million euros ($230 million) last year. Its use in the auto industry has grown 15 percent or more for each of the last seven years, which is significant given that 80 percent of its business is in the auto sector. But it was the 35-percent growth spike in 2015 that caught the company off guard and unable to meet the demand, Boragno said.
So Alcantara is investing 300 million euros ($368 million) to double production in the next five years and the company’s brand value is expected to triple to 300 million euros ($368 million) over the same period. The company is also projected to grow from 600 to 800 employees, including about 500 production workers who make Alcantara around the clock.
Our hunger for stretching soft colorful synthetic skin over the interiors of our cars to proudly advertise our cavalier habits of financial expenditure has, shockingly, grown too greedy. What are we going to do now? Go back to killing cows?
Every premium automaker must be panicked. Has nobody thought of the luxury lifestyle market? Is Lamborghini going to have to sell naked interiors to keep its claimed 11 pounds of weight savings? If I can’t write letters with my finger on the plushness of my center arm rest, is it even worth existing? If an owner can’t sit mostly naked in the cockpit of their new luxury sedan at two in the morning, quietly moaning while rubbing their dashboard, which is totally normal, can Lexus ownership even be considered a premium experience?
I need the entire roof of my car to be soft to the touch specifically so I can point it out to people the first time they are in my car and enjoy the moment they awkwardly rub the panel above them in feigned astonishment, leaving a handprint that will be there for the next two-to-three years of my lease ownership.
I need door panels with materials covered in microscopic fibers particularly proficient at catching and keeping years of oily dirt from my clammy appendages which will be impossible to clean. I demand nothing less. Figure it out, Alcantara.