In January 2017, Tesla introduced its faux-leather premium synthetic seats for all models, after a trial run on Model X since its launch in late 2015. On its website, although the vegan interior is not introduced explicitly, any mention of leather has been removed. Now that the brand can call its cars “vegan”, the luxury electric car brand is thinking outside of the box to show its strong commitment to produce sustainable automobiles.
Veganism as a growing global trend
Be the reason to go vegan religious, environmental or ethical, veganism alleviates environmental burden incurred by livestock agriculture. According to the US Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), livestock farming accounts for 14.5 per cent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Veganism is an animal-free lifestyle that is not restricted to the diet. Therefore, committed vegans may be trapped in a dilemma as they drive cars of which the seats are made of leather—a contradiction of ethical beliefs.
Tesla’s seats, steering wheel and gear shift made from synthetics still give that streamlined luxury look of leather. The company claims they are “durable and stain-resistant”, not very different from the leather ones. The leather substitutes are made in-house. The commitment to repurpose scrap leather came after a share-holding couple suggested during the company’s 2015 shareholders meeting to produce leather-free cars. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said he would “think about it” at the meeting. Despite the board of shareholders voting “no”, two years later, Tesla cars are 100 per cent vegan.
By offering a 100 per cent leather-free car, Tesla is pushing its eco-friendly business even further into the future.
—Tracy Reiman, PETA Executive Vice President
More about the green model
As a pioneer in environmental automobile production, Tesla’s latest five-seater Model 3 can accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometres in under six seconds and run for 345 km per charge. Priced at US $35,000, it is a cheaper and smaller alternative compared to the Model X. While some may be concerned with the charging issue, Tesla’s 909 Supercharge charging stations are dotted throughout Europe, Asia and America. Enter the final destination and the route with Supercharge stations along the way will be laid out. Within 30–40 minutes of charging, a Tesla Model S or Model X is good to hit the road again.
Apart from Tesla, other automobile companies such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Acura are also shifting towards making animal-free interiors.
Written by: Angela Ng