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Automotive - Leather’s bright future in automotive
27 April 2018

Leather Auto Seating

Specialist automotive analyst and information group Wards Auto is optimistic about the future of leather in motor cars.

On April 26, the Detroit-based consultancy’s director of information, John Sousanis, told delegates at the 2018 Lectra Automotive Leather Conference in Bordeaux that the prospects for this segment of the leather industry to keep growing are good.

He explained that leather’s market penetration in cars in the US increased from 29% of the total in 2001 to 48% in 2017. “Almost half of vehicles being sold in the US at the moment have leather seats,” he said.

According to Wards Auto’s data, the reason for this increase is not because of a rise in the numbers of luxury vehicles. Luxury cars’ share of the market has gone up, but only from 10% of all sales a few years ago to 13% in 2017.

Its director of information made it clear that the key to leather’s ongoing success is the increasing popularity of crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). Sales of these vehicles are growing strongly and 53% of them have leather seats, he explained.

Mr Sousanis said: “There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the outlook in automotive for the leather industry for at least the next decade. And by then autonomous vehicles, which will come, but only slowly at first, may be giving leather good options.”

In the 2018 edition of the analyst company’s awards, all of the winners in its ‘Ten Best Interiors’ category are extensive users of leather in their interiors and Mr Sousanis said he had been impressed by automotive manufacturers’ inventive use of colour, stitching and other design details, making this year’s collection especially interesting.

“We saw very sophisticated use of colour and many striking ways of using leather on seats,” he said. “Suppliers have to be vibrant and imaginative and they will have to combine their leather with other materials, but as long as they can keep doing that, leather will have a bright future in automotive.”

Information courtesy of Leatherbiz