A leather interior has long been a sign of luxury, comfort and quality in automobiles. But what happens when you’re a vegan, or you just want a more environmentally-friendly option?
You might think you would be stuck with a cheap-looking cloth interior that doesn’t reflect the price you would pay for a luxury vehicle, but Tesla, an electric-motor only automaker, and several other auto companies are offering a better solution and stepping up to meet this need.
Tesla and the “Vegan Interior”
Tesla is a company known for its forward thinking environmentally friendly products. As part of their commitment to green car technology, Tesla is giving customers an option to have their new “Ultra White” interior for their Model X SUV. This vegan leather is an option on all Tesla models. The fully vegan interior also applies to the steering wheel, interior door upholstery, panels, and all other interior components.
While the concept of an SUV that uses synthetic materials for its interior isn’t anything new, the Ultra White interior is one of the first that uses a synthetic leather that looks and feels worthy of the Model X’s near six figure price tag.
It’s definitely a step up from Tesla’s earlier attempts at a vegan interior, which often relied on cloth and looked like an odd feature for a pricey luxury vehicle.
A Greater Commitment to the Environment
While Tesla is one of the industry leaders in environmentally-friendly automobiles and reducing carbon footprint, other companies have started to offer vegan interiors for their luxury SUV models.
Brands such as BMW, Lexus, Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz already offer faux leather as an option for their SUV interiors, while Ford and Volvo are making use of organic materials such as soy foam for their car seats.
It’s no secret that the automobile industry has a reputation for being a major source of pollution among more environmentally-conscious folks, particularly SUV. But it is also clear that auto manufacturers have been making an effort towards offering “greener” options for their consumers.
German manufacturer BMW takes offering sustainability seriously. On certain models, it offers hides that are naturally dyed using olive leaves, and kenaf fibres for door paneling.
French tire manufacturer Michelin produces a tire sourced from Stearic Acid, which is from plant-derived sources.
Why You Should Care?
The faux leather upholstery these manufacturers use come in a variety of names including Softex, Nuluxe, and Artico among others. But with auto manufactures typically using the hides of 5-15 cows for leather interiors, this can go a long way to being cruelty-free.
According to PETA, the process of turning animal skins into leather requires 130 different chemicals including highly toxic ones like cyanide. People who work and live near leather tanneries face exposures to these toxic chemicals. This is on top of the many cows that suffer cruelty and are killed in the production of leather.
Tesla and the manufacturers referenced above have come a long way towards making electric cars more readily available to the public, and hybrid vehicles have become increasingly common. While you can easily find a vehicle that has cloth or faux leather seats, those types of interiors have never really been associated with high-end luxury SUVs.
Leather-free options on certain SUV models such as the Range Rover Velar are actually MORE expensive than cloth and leather versions. It’s a step in the right direction for leather NOT being the default option for luxury SUV models.
Of course, the kind of genuine leather interior that many customers want won’t go away anytime soon; it will still be available as an option for Tesla, BMW and Lexus luxury vehicles. The big difference now is that you no longer have to feel guilty about sitting in a leather seat while you drive your new Tesla Model X or other SUV model.
If you have the resources, you can confidently drive a luxury SUV without betraying your vegan beliefs.