Nowadays, synthetic suede is becoming the preferred material for high-end automobiles, but at one time leather car seats had been synonymous with luxury.
With growing affluence in the world, and the increasing popularity of luxury-driving and car-sharing services, business is thriving for synthetic suede manufacturers. Among these firms, Japanese companies are the ones that sit comfortably in the driver’s seat, according to an article published in the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN).
Senior Correspondent Jean-Franҫois Tremblay writes that Japanese textile companies have integrated a combination of manufacturing excellence, the ability to form association with car manufacturers to create high-quality seat materials, and a willingness to invest in research and development projects. High-end synthetic suede was invented by Toray Industries by back in the 1970s. It is composed of one-third polyurethane and two-thirds polyester. At first, the material was popular in the apparel sector, but with changes in fashion trends, Toray and Alcantara—its Italian subsidiary—identified a new market for the material in high-end cars. The companies have now expanded their facilities and increased their production in response to increased demand for artificial suede.
Other manufacturers of synthetic leather and suede in Japan are also doing equally well. In fact, Asahi Kasei is boosting its capacity by 50% in Japan for its Lamous brand of artificial suede, which is already utilized in approximately 100 models of high-end cars across the globe. The Quole brand from Seiren is a new type of synthetic leather made from polyester and polyurethane fabric. The manufacturers says that the synthetic materials provide a number of benefits over natural suede and leather, for example, stain- and weather-resistance, lightness¸ and a broad range of properties and colors.