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The latest research-based report on the European automotive leather sector has just been published and predicts that leather usage in Europe automotive seating is set for significant growth over the next five years to 2016.
This follows strong growth during the past five years to the point where, in 2011:
- Leather seating was fitted to just over 19% of European-produced cars and mixed leather (for example, leather/Alcantara) to an estimated 6%.
- Growth is expected to come mainly from the volume brands like Ford, GM Europe and Renault which are increasingly fitting leather (or mixed leather) as standard on their top-of-the-range models and offering it as an option elsewhere.
- This growth will be accompanied by major challenges, especially with regard to leather supply. There is likely to be upward pressure on hide prices, along with the need to purchase increasingly from non-European sources.
- Potential shortages of hides and the corresponding likelihood of higher prices are the main reasons behind the expected rapid rise in mixed leather fitment.
- It's probable too that the vehicle manufacturers will show increasing interest in some leather alternatives such as Alcantara (which offers differentiation, especially in sporting models) and the latest vinyls which provide strong competition to leather in terms of their appearance and properties.
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