Luxury Without Leather: Will Vegan Cars Gain Popularity?


Do a Google search for “vegan car” and the first result is likely to involve Tesla. The company is the first luxury automaker to offer a 100 percent animal-free vehicle. That, of course, means no leather seats, no leather steering wheel, no leather gear shifter, and no animal products in the glue that holds everything together.

Luxury cars have become synonymous with leather, but for people who are compassionate about the treatment of animals, the idea of leather can be repulsive. It’s a growing community of folks but the world’s most prominent automakers have yet to conform to their wishes and build cars that are truly animal-free.

One writer spent at least four months trying to sort out which cars use animal products and which don’t. His results are surprising because so few vehicles are completely free of animal skins or byproducts.

How likely is that to change?

If you want to buy a new Audi, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Lincoln, Acura, or Volvo, you won’t be able to escape the presence of processed cowhide. Even automakers that offer synthetic leather seating still sell their cars with a genuine leather-wrapped steering wheel, which can’t be replaced with another material.

The only cars, aside from the Tesla, that offer completely animal-free cars are base models of certain lower-end Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, and Fiat vehicles. That means they’ll come with cloth seats, urethane steering wheels, and the smallest engines available. Driving enthusiasts need not apply.

The vast majority of car shoppers demand leather and expect it in higher-end cars, which is why the automakers have made the material so prolific. It’s impossible, quite literally, to buy a new mass-produced performance or luxury car that is made without animal products. Even ordering a custom one-off version is unlikely due to rigid manufacturing processes.

Leather isn’t a problem for most buyers, but for the growing segment of the population who call themselves vegan, car shopping can be an exercise in futility. It doesn’t seem like that’ll change anytime soon.

Would you be interested in a luxury car that had no leather?


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  1. Leather is not good for the environment, for those who process it nor for the animals who “volunteered” their hides. I find leather hot in summer, cold in winter and slippery when driving sportingly. We buy many vehicles for our family and finding animal/cruelty-free is on top of our list. If a vehicle can not be ordered without leather, we skip them understanding that shift knobs and steering wheels are out of our control unfortunately. It is disappointing that we often lose many options when not being upsold to leather.

  2. No animal products, instead let’s substitute products that won’t biodegrade for 1000s of years??! Seems ethical!

  3. Would love to find a vegan car with all the luxuries. I actually would love if they came with nice cloth seats, not the cheap looking ones that look like 80’s leggings. I don’t like to sit on leather, faux or otherwise. It’s disgusting and uncomfortable. It’s beyond me that car manufacturers are so clueless.

  4. My wife and I want to only purchase for cruelty-free vehicles and anything with leather clearly isn’t cruelty-free. We usually buy trucks and SUVs. Our options are limited, especially since we tend to want higher end features/packages. I don’t know what’s popular but I know that many automakers have lost sales from us just because they couldn’t provide us with the package we wanted without including leather. I think that the automakers don’t know how many sales they lose due to leather and suspect that it’s many more than they think. We’ve found that non-leather fabrics perform better than leather anyway. It’s odd that some still consider leather a “luxury” item since it’s often less expensive than other fabrics and leather doesn’t wear or perform well.

  5. I’ve read that Subaru adapted a cruelty-free policy some years back and that they now use a synthetic leather. I would really like to know if that is true. I’m interested in the Subaru Limited but do NOT want dead-animal skin in my car. Can anyone confirm?

  6. I am interested in the 2019 Volvo XC40 but it only comes in leather. I contacted Volvo and they did not come across as if there were going to be an option for next year. I have always had leather but recently have become more aware of cruelty and pollution.

  7. OMG. Tesla, how you gonna call a car a Vegan with a straight face? It’s a damned MACHINE.

    It’s not the incredible level of pretentiousness on display when Tesla decides to market their cars as “Vegan” that bothers me, it’s the fact that I’ve been driving Vegan cars for years and nobody bothered to give ME any props! That first 1982 Chevy Chevette that I inherited from my sister? Leatherless. Vegan as HELL. Same with the Ford Escort that replaced it. And many cars to follow. It took me until law school to drive a car with a leather interior, and I could have been traipsing around acting all superior, like my car had a social conscience, when in fact it was just CHEAP.
    I never knew that NOT having leather was going to be a selling point to brag about – I was just BROKE.

  8. I would love a cruelty-free car but my husband wants a luxury vehicle. Please let automakers know not everyone who wants luxury wants leather!

  9. I want my next vehicle to be completely free of animal-based products. I need an AWD or 4WD. Will be researching this over next couple of years.

  10. Absolutely. The sooner vehicle manufacturers abandon cruelty the better. I haven’t bought a new car in over 4 years and only now that there are more vegan inferior options am I even considering it. But I am reluctant to buy a car from a manufacturer that produces a vegan interior while continuing to profit from leather interior cars off the same production line.

  11. An emphatic YES! I have been searching endlessly for a 3 row SUV without leather. The VW Atlas launch edition model is leather-free, but it lacks pretty much every option I am looking for :(

  12. Definitely no leather please. My next car will be leather-free, high end replica that i build since car manufacturers ignore us.

  13. Faux leather please!!! Luxury does not mean sitting on a tortured animal’s skin. That is sick.

  14. Yes. I have a porsche & BMW and would like to upgrade but will no longer pay for leather. If tesla is the only option in a year or two, they’re getting my money…

  15. Much like some of the other comments, I would like more options than Tesla, but if that’s my only option, then I guess I’ll probably end up getting a Tesla. I feel like I was tricked a few years ago when I bought my Prius, because I was assured by the dealer that there was no leather. I bought the top model though, which means that the steering wheel is in fact made of leather…

  16. YES PLEASE. Searching for a leather free car is a maddening process. Car companies GIVE US AN OPTION to replace leather components with alcantara.

  17. Yes I am interested in buying a luxury car without animal products used. I would love a Tesla but would love more options with other brands.

  18. I am looking for one right now. If Tesla is the only one, Tesla will get my money. How presumptuous do the auto makers have to be to kill animals on the buyer’s behalf without asking them?

  19. Would absolutely be interested in a luxury car without leather. The lack of alternative should be a problem for many more people. Many religions accept that animals can be used for food and clothing but should not suffer as a result. How can anyone be certain of how the animal used for a car interior was treated? Environmentally, the tanning process is extremely damaging and leather takes a ridiculously long time to breakdown. Seeing leather as a luxury is just bonkers and backwards.

  20. I am allergic to the repugnant odor that emanates from the leather lined seats. Would love to lease
    a Lexus that does not carry a leather lined seat. I reside in Deerfield Beach, Fl. Cannot find a dealership
    here that fits that criterion.
    Please to let me know if there is one and also their phone number.

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