the rubber grip is not held on by anything other than friction. i had to remove the grip in order to pull my center console. that grip is a pain in the butt, after dousing it with WD-40, i was able to wrangle it free. reinstalling it though was just a hard as removing it, to this day, the grip doesnt sit in quite the same spot as it did before removal. to answer your question about a different material to cover it, i have yet to see any company offer a replacement for it. i have a friend who ordered a custom made e-brake and shift boot, i'll get in contact with him to find out what company he went through.