Soon, you’ll be able to hit the road in a leather-free BMW! Following meetings with PETA Germany, the luxury car brand has announced that it will launch fully vegan car interiors—including seats and tricky bits like steering wheel and gearshift covers—for BMW and MINI models beginning in 2023. This animal- and eco-friendly option spares up to eight cows per car and slashes carbon emissions.
This is just the latest signal that the automotive industry is gearing up for a leather-free future, which everyone can join by driving a vegan car off the lot. Many other car companies—including Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla—also began offering leather-free car interiors after PETA entities, including PETA U.S., drove home that cows die in agony so that their skin can be used for leather.
Volvo also announced that all of its cars would be completely leather-free by 2030. This is a move in the right direction, but given that a PETA video exposé revealed that workers branded, beat, and electroshocked cows for leather car interiors, the company needs to hit the accelerator and agree to go leather-free within nine months, not nine years. Volvo is based in Sweden, home of Greta Thunberg, someone who can attest to the environmental damage caused by exploiting cows not only for their flesh but also for their skin.
PETA has been working for years to put vegan vehicles on the road, pushing and persuading brands such as Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Volkswagen to embrace leather- and wool-free seats and steering wheels. Any eco-conscious car manufacturer should be racing to follow their lead, because what’s the point of driving an electric car if it supports the leather industry, which is complicit in the burning of the Amazon rainforest, or the wool industry, which poisons our water supply and exacerbates the climate crisis?
The VISION EQXX is an all-electric luxury concept car from Mercedes-Benz that’s made with recycled and sustainable materials, including mushroom fibers, bamboo, cacti, and vegan silk. According to Mercedes-Benz, “These show that it is still possible to achieve the utmost in automotive luxury without using animal products, whilst creating an inimitable feeling of premium comfort.”
PETA Germany is pushing the company to switch to vegan interiors for all of its models. In 2019, the VISION EQS concept car launched, which featured vegan Nappa leather made of recycled plastic.
“It is our job now to re-define modern luxury by Mercedes. What is for certain is that attractive, contemporary luxury must be sustainable—and sustainably fascinating,” explains Ola Källenius, head of Mercedes-Benz.
PETA has been pressuring Tesla to offer vegan interiors for a few years now. After we questioned cofounder and CEO Elon Musk in person at an annual meeting (yup, we own shares in the company!), he finally confirmed Tesla’s vegan designs. The vegan Model 3, with a luxurious, durable leather-free interior, debuted to a torrent of media buzz. The company’s much-anticipated Model Y is also leather-free from seats to steering wheel, a representative told PETA—if it even has a steering wheel.
— Car and Driver (@CARandDRIVER) June 13, 2019
After conversations with PETA Germany, Volkswagen confirmed that its forthcoming all-electric, zero-emissions models—the ID.3 and the e-up!—will each have a leather-free and wool-free interior option for the seats.
And Bentley came out with an interior featuring vegan grape leather (made of leftovers from the wine industry) from Vegea, a PETA U.K. 2017 Fashion Awards winner for innovation.
VEGEA for BENTLEY – We are proud to announce our collaboration with Bentley motors for #BentleyEXP100GT car celebrating #Bentley100years
Interiors in Vegea for sustainable future luxury #BentleyEXP100GT #Bentley100Years
Vegeatextile project supported by @H2020SME pic.twitter.com/d2Cg48hvAw
— VEGEA (@vegeacompany) July 18, 2019
PETA is ecstatic that the biggest brands in the industry have come this far, but we won’t stop until all car companies use only 100% leather-free and vegan interiors!
Many other companies offer models that can be fully loaded with leather-free seats, steering wheels, and gear shifts. These include Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Polestar, Subaru, and Toyota. Contact each manufacturer directly in order to confirm that all components are entirely animal-free.
Leather production poisons tannery workers, pollutes the environment, and kills animals. Whenever you’re shopping for a new car, look for a luxurious, high-performing leather-free interior that’s stylish, durable, cost effective, and kind to the planet as well as cows.