Cooperation to deliver scale in the field of non-petroleum-based, fully circular leather alternative for automotive interiors
Asahi Kasei has decided to invest in US-based startup NFW, a producer of non-petroleum-based leather alternative for car interiors. As part of Asahi Kasei's medium-term growth strategy and in close cooperation with Sage Automotive Interiors, Inc. (Sage), an Asahi Kasei company and a leading global provider of innovative and functional materials for the automotive interior, this strategic partnership enables another major step to support global automotive OEMs in reducing the environmental burden of automobiles.
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20231024939696/en/
MIRUM® non-petroleum-based leather alternatives by NFW (Photo: Business Wire)
Based in Peoria, Illinois, NFW was founded in 2015 and has developed the only platform capable of producing precision-engineered natural (non-petroleum-based) leather, foam, and textiles to replace animal and petrochemical-based materials. Certified by the United States Department of Agriculture as having 100% biobased content, MIRUM®, the company's patented leather alternative, is made from natural rubber, natural fibers, plant oils, natural pigments, and minerals. The material offers superior durability and quality that can replace traditional animal-based or synthetic leather products without the use of any polyurethane or other coatings.
Sage is engaged in the development, manufacture, and sales of innovative functional materials used in automobile interiors globally. Since its acquisition by Asahi Kasei in 2018, Sage has been strengthening its business activities in Europe and China through mergers and acquisitions, parallel to expanding its lineup of growth-potential materials such as suede and synthetic leather. As one of the leading global suppliers in the car seat fabric market, Sage has a strong presence among automakers and suppliers.
Dirk Pieper, Chairman of the Sage Board of Directors and Lead Executive for the development and growth of Asahi Kasei’s overall automotive product offering, states, “The cooperation with NFW will enable Asahi Kasei and Sage to assist global automakers in reducing the environmental burden of their cars. By jointly developing and manufacturing a non-petroleum-based and fully circular leather alternative, the Asahi Kasei Group takes a leading position in revolutionizing the market for car interior materials.”
First project within the “Care for Earth” investment framework
The cooperation with NFW is the first project within Asahi Kasei’s “Care for Earth” investment framework announced in April 2023. The company allocated up to $100 million for investments worldwide in early-stage startups that aim to solve issues in environmental fields such as hydrogen, energy storage, carbon management, and bio-based chemicals over the 5-year period up to fiscal 2027. As described in its medium-term management plan in April 2022, the car interior material business is one of Asahi Kasei’s “10 Growth Gears” (GG10), businesses that are to drive future growth, targeting more than 70% of operating income around 2030.
Please refer to the following press release:
Asahi Kasei establishes framework for investment in startups focused on carbon neutrality
NFW is a platform for plastic-free performance materials spanning sheet goods, textiles, molded composites, and foams. NFW follows three Ground Rules in everything they develop: start well, stay clean, end well. The multi-material platform serves a wide range of industries—from fashion and footwear to automotive and upholstery. NFW technology embeds into existing supply chains, enabling the world’s most iconic brands to design and scale products with high-performance, naturally circular materials. NFW makes global brands more sustainable, empowering them to create without plastics. Alongside the boldest brands and visionary designers, NFW is pioneering a post-linear, post-oil economy.
About Sage Automotive Interiors
Sage Automotive Interiors (www.sageautomotiveinteriors.com) is one of the world’s leading providers of automotive interior materials—seating, door panel surfaces and headliners—to automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Global offices and manufacturing locations include North America, South America, EMEA and Asia. Sage’s core strengths are consumer research, sustainability, and innovative problem solving for the OEM. Sage’s vision is to continually lead the market in design, engineering and technical capability, supported by world-class manufacturing. Sage Automotive Interiors is an Asahi Kasei company.
About Asahi Kasei
The Asahi Kasei Group contributes to life and living for people around the world. Since its founding in 1922 with ammonia and cellulose fiber businesses, Asahi Kasei has consistently grown through the proactive transformation of its business portfolio to meet the evolving needs of every age. With more than 48,000 employees worldwide, the company contributes to a sustainable society by providing solutions to the world's challenges through its three business sectors of Material, Homes, and Health Care. Its Material sector, comprised of Environmental Solutions, Mobility & Industrial, and Life Innovation, includes a wide array of products from battery separators and biodegradable textiles to engineering plastics and sound solutions. For more information, visit https://www.asahi-kasei.com/.
Asahi Kasei is also dedicated to sustainability initiatives and is contributing to reaching a carbon neutral society by 2050. To learn more, visit https://www.asahi-kasei.com/sustainability/.