Some of the biggest car brands in the game—such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla—now offer leather-free car interiors after PETA drove home how cows die in agony so that their skin can become leather, the production of which is also killing the planet.
Volvo announced that all of its cars would be completely leather-free by 2030. This is a move in the right direction, but given that it takes three to eight cow hides to line the interior of just one car and 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
Other car companies are looking at luxury vegan leather interiors to compete with Tesla. The 2022 BMW iNEXT, an electric SUV, features a relaxed interior space with vegan suede and jacquard fabrics.
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.