A Lamborghini Aventador showcased Alcantara interiors.

At a press event on Alcantara―the wonder-material of industrial and automotive designers alike―national automotive media were given the rare opportunity to ask Alcantara’s Chairman and CEO, Andrea Boragno, about how Alcantara material is being used in automotive interiors, what features it provides, and of course, how much it costs.

If you are not familiar with the sexy-sounding fabric name, Alcantara is a man-made material (the company refrains from ever calling it, “synthetic”) used in a variety of consumer industries, ranging from home décor to consumer electronics.  With a feel and premium appearance like English suede, yet requires minimal care akin to a worn-in pair of jeans, the polyester-based fabric has hundreds―if not thousands―of applications.

The interior of this Lamborghini Aventador shows how some manufacturers choose to use Alcantara.

Within the automotive industry, high-dollar brands like Lamborghini, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Audi and Porsche began using the material, “With exclusivity in mind,” according to the fabric capitano. Among the reasons manufacturers choose this fabric over suede or some synthetic knit, Boragno stated Alcantara:

  • Keeps cool in warm weather and warm during cold weather
  • Is about the same price point as leather, while being lighter weight
  • Is hard-wearing
  • Is easy to clean, with basic soap and water (like leather, a special solvent can be used for stubborn stains)
  • Can be made stain repellent through the use of products like 3M Scotchgard™

For now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the 100% made in Italy product on mainstream vehicles like a Toyota Corolla or Ford F-150. The brand appears to be positioned as a luxury finish for now. However, Boragno stated Alcantara is moving fast and will continue to ink as many deals as possible with automakers. It appears they are already doing well, as the chairman and CEO stated, “Last year about 200,000 vehicles in the United States featured Alcantara. We had 80 percent growth in the United States. About 25 percent growth this year would be a very conservative estimate.”

"We can match functionality with emotional beauty. " – Andrea Boragno

Within vehicle interiors, Alcantara can often be found on the seats, headliner, A-, B-, and C-pillars, dashboard, door cards and even steering wheel. Unlike harder surface vinyl, plastic or leather, Alcantara doesn’t create glare. That is probably the number one reason racecar drivers and premium sports car owners prefer the stuff all over their cockpits.

One of the first companies in Europe to be certified as carbon neutral, Alcantara believes its functional product characteristics coupled with emotional design still allow for environmental sustainability. That belief is probably one of the reasons Tesla―the electric vehicle manufacturer based in California―is one of Alcantara’s bigger buyers of the material, outfitting their battery-powered vehicle interiors with the wonder-fabric.

As Alcantara finds its way into more vehicle brands (and ones the average American can afford on the used vehicle market), signore Boragno would like to remind you:

“[Alcantara is] Not a synthetic material. We are definitely not microfiber. We are much more than that, with a much bigger process.  You can’t call Alcantara, ‘Just a material.’  Alcantara is, ‘Alcantara.’ You wouldn't call a diamond, ‘carbon.’ It's a diamond."

Enough said.