Laugh if you want, but the fact that car companies are making vegan-friendly cars is quite a feat.
The company we’re referring to in this post is, not surprisingly, Elon Musk’s Tesla. In mid-January, the company announced that the new Tesla Model X sport utility vehicle will come with a synthetic leather option called “Ultra White.” The synthetic leather will be featured on seats and car accents. This option is a welcome addition to Tesla’s cars, which are already earth-friendly.
Tech Insider reports that this move isn’t too surprising considering Tesla’s overall company goal is to limit emissions. “According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, livestock around the world account for about 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.”
It should be noted that other luxury automakers, such as Lexus, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW already offer synthetic leather. In fact, The New York Times reports that BMW’s i3, which is sold for $42,400, has an interior that’s made “with open-pore eucalyptus wood harvested from a certified forest. (Translation: a forest that is responsibly managed.) The interior panels are made of a renewable Asian kenaf plant, and it is all assembled in a wind-powered factory in Germany.”
According to Tech Insider , Tesla went vegan to please shareholders. During a 2015 shareholder meeting, the company was pressured to increase the company’s offerings. “Two proposals were made on the topic. The first was to completely stop using animal-based products. And the second was to decrease the use of the products, eventually discontinuing them completely by 2019.”
In addition to shareholder pressure, other customers started to pressure Tesla to make the move, too. One big name that appealed to the company is Leilani Münter, professional race car driver and environmental advocate, who also happens to be vegan. Münter “said she was disappointed when she first tried to buy the Model S and could not get the faster, sportier model without real leather seats,” The NYT reports. Tesla eventually complied and started to offer cloth seats and a “synthetic-leather-clad steering wheel available on special request.” Obviously, the company has come a long way since then.
While it’s great that Tesla made the change, it’s not too surprising, either. The NYT reports that Jack Nerad, executive editorial director at Kelley Blue Book, says that “all the car companies want sustainability cred.” Even car companies like Volvo and Ford are touting that its cars feature “soy foam in their seats,” the NYT reports.
Trendy or not, we’re just happy that customers now have a cruelty-free option.
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Image of Tesla model X via Facebook