Fulfilling his earlier promises to shareholders and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and heartening vegans everywhere, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced August 31 that the company’s Model 3 — as a compact full-electric vehicle, already on the right side of saving the environment — will now be completely free of leather. Tesla’s Model Y, due for launch in 2020, is also planned to be 100% leather-free.
As many VEGWORLD readers know from our earlier reports on Tesla’s progress towards producing all-vegan car interiors, the major impediment was the heated steering wheel, which didn’t wear well when covered with the maker’s original type of artificial leather. Tesla has been offering synthetic leather seats for some time now in the Model S and Model X as well as the Model 3, but with leather-covered steering wheels, and has always offered cloth interiors for customers who didn’t want leather. But a completely leather-free interior was the ultimate goal.
As the result of research and testing to find the right material, the all-vegan Model 3’s steering wheel is covered in an updated and durable synthetic leather that can “take the heat.” So at last a Tesla vehicle is 100% leather-free — a major breakthrough for the company.
Along with vegans and environmentalists, PETA is pleased with Tesla’s progress toward ending the use of leather in its vehicles. “By ditching leather, Tesla is both staying true to its focus on sustainability and sparing cows the cruelty inherent in the leather industry,” according to the PETA website. ”Raising cows for leather requires huge quantities of feed, land, water, and fossil fuels — and cattle emit massive amounts of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, into our atmosphere.”
Like the vegan movement itself, the movement to get leather entirely out of cars is growing apace. In addition to Tesla, manufacturers currently taking steps in that direction include Volkswagen, Volvo, BMW, Toyota, Range Rover, and Mercedes Benz, with others expected to come online in the next few years.