Luxury Without Leather: Will Vegan Cars Gain Popularity?

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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?

-tgriffith

14 Comments

  1. 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 :(

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

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

  4. 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…

  5. 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…

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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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