Tesla’s Removal of Leather Seats Will Give You Hope for a Sustainable Future

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Update: According to Elon Musk, Tesla will soon replace the animal leather that it currently uses on the steering wheels of its Model 3 with a luxurious, durable vegan material—and the company’s much-anticipated Model Y will also be leather-free.

By ditching leather, Tesla is both staying true to its focus on sustainability and sparing cows the cruelty inherent in the leather industry. Raising cows for leather requires huge quantities of feed, land, water, and fossil fuels—and cattle emit massive amounts of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, into our atmosphere.

Cows exploited for their skin are routinely subjected to mutilations including castration and hot-iron branding—all without any pain relief. In many cases, they’re dismembered and skinned while still conscious.

We’ll continue to urge Tesla to make all its models 100% leather-free and vegan.

Originally published June 10, 2019:

During an event at the Computer History Museum in San Jose, California, Tesla CEO Elon Musk assured a shareholder from PETA that the upcoming Model Y—Tesla’s highly anticipated upcoming car, which is expected to be released in March 2019—will be completely leather-free!

While taking questions from audience members and folks chiming in on Twitter, Musk noted that the new Model Y may even drive itself completely. “Model Y will not have any leather in it, including the steering wheel—if it does have a steering wheel,” he said, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Originally published July 24, 2017:

In Tesla’s pursuit to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” the electric car company has lessened its use of the ecological nightmare known as leather for its interiors and will now offer only vegan seats to consumers.

While Tesla hasn’t made an official announcement, any mention of or listing for leather has been removed from its configuration page.  Unfortunately, Tesla cars still come with leather-wrapped steering wheels, but some cruelty-free vegan options have been offered upon request in the past.

We’re ecstatic that Tesla has come this far.

The company’s vegan transformation comes roughly two years after PETA—a Tesla shareholder—spoke at the company’s 2015 annual meeting. In our discussions with the company, we pointed out that Tesla could reduce its carbon footprint by using only vegan leather.

When we asked Tesla to offer only vegan leather for its car interiors, CEO Elon Musk said he would “absolutely” consider it. By launching the next model with a leather-free option just 18 months later, Tesla seems to have now converted to all-synthetic seats.

There’s no room for animal skins in a sustainable future.

Animal agriculture—including the leather industry—is responsible for 51 percent of all greenhouse-gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Turning animal skins into leather requires 130 different chemicals—including cyanide—and people who work in and live near tanneries suffer from exposure to these toxic chemicals. Leather production also squanders valuable natural resources, including up to 15,000 gallons of water per ton of hides.

Not in the market for a Tesla? You can still make a difference right now.

Wear vegan clothing every day. For every stitch of leather or exotic-animal skin, animals endure an agonizing life and a painful death. We all choose whether to support kindness or cruelty when buying a new jacket or pair of shoes.

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