Shifting consumer sentiment away from animal products like leather has seen top luxury car-makers across the globe begin offering ‘vegan’ versions to buyers.
The latest to do so are Volkswagen Group-owned Porsche and Elon Musk-led Tesla, which both announced this week that they are rolling out completely leather-free versions.
Porsche is offering a leather-free variant of its first electric vehicle — Taycan — which was unveiled on Thursday.
“With the Taycan, Porsche offers an entirely leather-free interior for the first time. Interiors made from innovative recycled materials underscore the sustainable concept of the electric sports car,” the company said.
Tesla, meanwhile, announced last Saturday that its bread and butter model — Tesla Model 3 — will now come with fully leather-free interiors.
The move comes after a promise made by Musk during the company’s annual shareholder meeting in June this year, when activists from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) raised the issue, pointing out that animal agriculture (including the leather industry) resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions that the global transportation sector.
Musk had gone on to explain during the meeting that the company was close to developing a leather-free steering wheel, a major obstacle in making vehicle interiors leather-free.
“I believe we were close to having a non-heated steering wheel that’s not leather. There are some challenges when heat the non-leather material and also how well it wears over time,” the Tesla CEO had explained.
The company had gone even further, with Musk also assuring that in its roadmap, the Model Y and Model 3 would become vegan by 2020, but with no timeline for Model S and Model X. Tesla had made the synthetic material a standard part of its Model 3, Model X and Model S models in 2017, however, the steering wheel had remaining leather due to the reasons noted by Musk.
The growing movement against animal-cruelty and greenhouse emission-heavy industries has seen a long list of automobile makers begin offering completely ‘vegan’ options for their models over the recent past. PETA even runs a list of car models which come with no leather accessories for conscientious members, which include models from most of the world’s top automobile manufacturers including giants like General Motors, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen.
Tesla’s Elon Musk said they were close to coming up with a leather-free steering wheel, but there were some challenges related to changes in temperature.