Pioneering automakers are already using a number of natural fibers in current car production. These sustainable materials are used to reinforce plastics, produce foam and replace harmful materials such as fiberglass or oil-based materials; some examples are soy foam, wheat straw, kenaf fiber, coconut fiber and rice hulls. The possibility of using leftover agave plant fibers from tequila production to produce more sustainable bioplastic parts such as wiring harnesses, HVAC units and storage bins is also being explored. Jose Cuervo is making use of all components of the 200-300 tons of agave that the tequila distributor harvests daily. Research is also being conducted into the viability of using fast-growing bamboo and algae for interior applications. Bamboo matures in about 2-5 years, is compostable and has the tensile strength of steel.
Another revolutionary concept, originating from leathergoods expert Carmen Hijosa, is to make faux swede out of fiber extracted from pineapple leaves. Piñatex™ makes use of the 25 million tons of pineapple leaves harvested each year and is one quarter of the weight of real leather at two thirds of the price. The leaves would otherwise be burnt or left to rot and their production into a non-woven textile can provide income for farmers and become a vibrant new industry for pineapple-growing countries. Piñatex is currently used to make shoes, bags and clothing but has also been used to make floor mats in cars and manufacturers are looking to use the leather alternative for further car upholstery, particularly seats.