Mercedes-Benz to Offer Leather-Free Smart Car After PETA Appeal

Smart Move for Smart Cars: New Interiors Protect the Environment and Animals

For Immediate Release:
February 23, 2015

Shakira Croce 202-483-7382

Montvale, N.J. – In 2013 and 2014, the “leather-free” models of the Mercedes-Benz–engineered Smart Fortwo still included leather steering wheels—but the Montvale-based company has just confirmed to PETA that the base model for the all-new Smart Fortwo (C453), anticipated for the fourth quarter of 2015, will be completely leather-free. The move comes after appeals from PETA pointing out that the leather industry is responsible for not only widespread animal suffering but also environmental devastation, making leather a poor choice for a purportedly Earth-friendly car.

“By offering 100 percent leather-free interiors, Mercedes-Benz is making a smart move for its smart cars and a positive statement about protecting the environment,” says PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk. “Having seen firsthand how cows are turned into seat covers and steering wheel trim, I’d say Mercedes can toot its own horn for veganizing this auto interior.”

The millions of cows whose skins are turned into leather endure branding, tail-docking, dehorning, and castration—all without painkillers. The animals are loaded onto crowded trucks and transported through all weather extremes to slaughterhouses, where improper stunning means that many may be skinned while they’re still alive.

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 squanders valuable natural resources, including up to 15,000 gallons of water per ton of hides, and produces massive amounts of the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Mercedes-Benz has offered leather-free options for its cars since 2008, and its German parent company, Daimler AG, already offers a leather-free Smart Fortwo in Europe.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind