Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular


Now even our cars are going vegan

Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular-vegan

It doesn’t always have to be leather: the cockpit of the Alfa Romeo 4C can also be clad with Alcantara

Source: Pure Perfection

The leather upholstery in the car has stood for special demands and high comfort for decades. There are materials that can do without animal products – from Alcantara to pineapple leather.

W.hen the wing door of the Tesla Model X opens, the gaze falls on the seating area, which is completely in "ultra-white". The innocent-looking appearance matches the material: the customers of the electric SUV take a seat in a vegan interior. The seats, steering wheel and the inside of the doors are covered with synthetic leather.

After some pressure from the animal welfare organization Peta and critical inquiries at the last shareholders’ meeting, the electric car pioneer to a car that can do without animal skins. The imitation passes the stroke test: it feels soft and supple.

Leather upholstery has been used in luxury and luxury cars for decades for dignity and exclusivity, and discerning customers are still willing to pay a considerable surcharge for it. But the argument that the desired cuddly feel cannot be achieved with artificial leather no longer works.

Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular-vegan

Tesla doesn’t just want to set standards for electric drives: The cockpit of the Model X does without any animal skins

Source: Tesla

The industry has developed a number of equivalent alternatives – from Acella to Alcantara to a new type of fabric made from pineapple leaves. Even experts can now hardly distinguish the synthetic or vegetable fiber-based products from real leather.

“Real leather is used in the automotive industry used less and less, ”says Alexander Jockisch, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Benecke-Kaliko, a supplier who specializes in surface materials. "Even in many upper-class and premium vehicles, only parts of it are equipped with real leather."

The Conti subsidiary from Hanover produces a soft and smooth synthetic leather called Acella, which is used in the interior of the Volvo XC60, among other things. "Our upholstery material does not show any quality fluctuations, is available in unlimited quantities and, moreover, more durable than real leather," says Alexander Jockisch.

Cowhide does not have a uniform geometric shape

The natural product, on the other hand, is difficult to get in consistent quality and also throws away too much waste. Indeed: Since a cowhide does not have a uniform geometric shape and has natural defects such as scratches, up to 30 percent rejects are incurred, depending on the quality requirements.

Because of its high durability, Acella is particularly popular for taxis and car sharing vehicles. The material also passed the odor test with flying colors, as it does not contain any non-volatile compounds. With the Acella Eco Natural variant, Alexander Jokisch even offers artificial leather that consists of up to 50 percent renewable raw materials.

Still at Volvo around three quarters of the new cars are fitted with seats that are completely or partially covered with leather. But the animal product has long been under scrutiny at the corporate headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular-skin

Looks like leather, but it’s a synthetically produced material called Acella, which the interior of this Mercedes A-Class is equipped with

Source: ContiTech AG

“The question of whether we will inevitably have to have leather in our luxury models in the future is a very preoccupation for us,” says Volvo chief designer Thomas Ingenlath. "We would like to convince customers that there is a time beyond leather for automotive interiors."

This rethinking is no coincidence. The proportion of the population who care about animal welfare is growing steadily. Over the past 30 years the number of vegetarians has increased in Germany roughly tenfold and, according to information from the Vegetarian Association VEBU, is around 7.8 million. After the fashion industry, animal and environmental activists are also focusing on car manufacturers.

The activists do not want to accept the claim that the cattle are slaughtered for meat production anyway and that the leather is therefore only a waste product. Factory farming is still supported, is their counter-argument. A petition that the VW boss Matthias Muller is to encourage people to equip the cars of its group brands only with artificial leather, has already found 10,000 signatories.

The quality of synthetic fabrics is consistently high

Synthetic seat and steering wheel covers have a long tradition, especially in particularly sporty vehicles. Already in 1970 a Japanese patented the microfiber Alcantara, the polyester and polyurethane-based fabric was first used in the wedge-shaped Fiat Roadster X 1/9 at the end of the 1970s. Porsche prefers to use Alcantara in the GTS models – but not only there. The production is just as complex and therefore just as expensive as that of leather.

On the other hand, there are clear advantages: The quality is consistent and there is no waste. The material is durable, pliable and scratch-resistant, water-repellent, fire-resistant and easy to clean, as well as breathable, allergy-neutral and wrinkle-free. And – a special plus especially for sports cars – 50 percent lighter than animal leather.

The microfibre Dinamica has similar properties to Alcantara, that of Mercedes in the Smart Brabus and that of BMW in the Mini John Cooper Works is processed. This fabric was specially developed for motorsport and guarantees slip resistance on the seats and on the steering wheel – a quality that is crucial for sporty drivers. In the new Mercedes-AMG GT, Dinamica is used as standard in combination with Artico man-made leather.

Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular-vegan

Owners of sports cars such as the Ferrari J50 are already familiar with Alcantara, but the material is also being used more and more in other vehicles

Source: Pure Perfection

In addition to these microfibers, drivers could also encounter materials such as hemp or even stone in the interior of their car in the future. The French supplier Faurecia showed the first examples of this at the 2016 Paris Salon. In San Francisco, the start-up MyCoworks produces a leather-like fabric made of mushrooms under the motto “Redefining Leather”. Targeted areas of application: furniture, house building, space travel – and the automotive industry.

An unusual alternative to leather comes from the textile industry. At the Royal College of Art in London, the Spaniard Carmen Hijosa developed a type of pineapple leather. The material, called piñatex – “piña” is the Spanish word for pineapple – is made from leaves that are left over from the pineapple harvest in the Philippines and are shipped to a textile factory in Barcelona.

"Piñatex is just as hard-wearing as leather, but cheaper and more sustainable," says Carmen Hijosa. "And no animal is harmed during its production."

Audi is not yet working with pineapple leather

Since her start-up was founded, vegan shoes, handbags, chairs and sofas have been created, and if Carmen Hijosa has his way, her pineapple leather will soon also adorn the interiors of vehicles: “We are already in talks with various manufacturers, also in the luxury segment.“One argument in the negotiations could be the price of 24 euros per square meter – compared to up to 40 euros for real leather.

On the other hand, factors other than costs count, especially in the premium segment. Simona Falcinella, Head of Color & Trim in the Audi design department, has examined samples of the pineapple leather and is skeptical: "The material does not yet meet Audi’s high quality standards, especially with regard to crack resistance and color fastness."

The VW subsidiary Audi is one of the car manufacturers who continue to be proud of their fine leather, above all of the largely natural, unique leather that is offered as special equipment for the top model A8. It has an open-pored surface that is only covered by a water-repellent protective layer.

Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular-cars

Acella looks good, feels pleasant and is hard-wearing, which is why it is not only used in the Mercedes-Benz C300, but also often in taxis and car sharing-Vehicles

Source: ContiTech AG

Simona Falcinella rushes to emphasize that there are alternatives to leather for every model series, but you will have to wait a while for a vegan cockpit for the Audi A6, A7 Sportback and A8. For the models below, however, there are also versions without any animal products.

The BMW subsidiary Rolls-Royce is downright wasteful when it comes to designing the interior: the luxury brand uses eleven animal skins for a single phantom, and nine for a ghost. In addition to the tanned fur of Scottish Highland cattle, the Bespoke specialty department also uses the skin of ostriches and alligators. Animal rights activists are consoled with the fact that these are exclusively free-living and "happy" animals.

But even in the super luxury segment, it has been recognized that fine leather covers are no longer the measure of all things. Rolls-Royce competitor Bentley, for example, only delivers its cars for the Indian market with velvet or Alcantara covers. On the subcontinent, customers categorically refuse to sit on the skin of animals that are sacred to them.

Agriculture Minister Schmidt promotes animal welfare labels

The Green Week in Berlin has started. Around 1600 exhibitors from 66 countries present their products at the fair. Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt used the opening to advertise his animal welfare label Source: The World

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10 thoughts on “Vegan cars: interiors without animal skin are becoming increasingly popular”

  1. Thank you for the well researched article. I am pleased that a rethink is slowly starting here and I hope that all car manufacturers will soon switch to the leather alternatives described. In my opinion, it is incomprehensible why real leather is still used when it is actually no longer necessary. But the car buyer is also in demand here, because what is produced is what can be sold. Unfortunately, many consumers are not yet particularly aware of the problem in this area – all the more important are articles that create this awareness and show realistic alternatives. Keep it up!

  2. Thank you for this well-researched report! With the many great leather alternatives, leather is no longer up-to-date. Where suffering can be avoided, it should be our duty to ensure it.

  3. After reading the article, one wonders why anyone still wants to buy leather … The development of leather alternatives is great! Keep it up, dear car manufacturers. And thanks for the well-researched, convincing article 🙂

  4. I am happy about the article and thank you that the news portal emphasizes how many – even better – alternatives to real leather exist. I hope that in the future every car manufacturer will switch to the vegan version of leather in order to save many, many animals from this suffering. If there are such good, inexpensive, high-quality variants, why doesn’t every manufacturer switch to them? Maybe we just need to keep sharing articles like this to bring it to the attention of humanity. Because the more people share our opinion on the welfare of animals, the greater the pressure on car manufacturers and the greater the chance that they will switch to the vegan variant.

    Before buying a car or buying fashion, keep thinking of the many docile bulls, cows and their calves who suffer for these industries!

    (shortened, the moderation)

  5. I am pleased with the very well-written article and hope that there will be a much larger vegan offer in this area in the future and that all car manufacturers will rethink and use cruelty-free materials in their cars and that leather will soon no longer be used than animals suffer infinitely. I also think that leather is no longer up to date and who wants to sit on products made from dead animals.

  6. My husband and I have just bought the GLE with light artificial equipment and we are extremely satisfied. My husband actually wanted to give me the AMG as a present, but unfortunately it wasn’t (yet) available with a light-colored synthetic leather interior. That’s why we unfortunately had to refuse. In any case, the material is a dream and is in no way inferior to real leather.

  7. Thanks for this very good article. I would like all automakers to do without leather. The cows suffer from childhood until their painful death. Sitting on the skins of animals that have been branded and tortured with electric shocks is a definite disgusting factor for me. I find pineapple much more appetizing. And if there were a piña colada for free with the purchase of a car equipped in this way, that would be a special and certainly successful advertising move. Salud.

  8. Vegan covers with prestige in the car. Nice thing! This will also lead to a change in the image of graceful plastics in the clothing and bag industry. Soon nobody will call vegan madness anymore – except for the last representatives of the animal husbandry and processing industry.

  9. A good article! It is very gratifying that the automotive industry is rethinking animal-friendly alternatives when it comes to interior fittings!


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