Leather has always been a hallmark of luxury cars. Of course, Elon Musk hasn’t always held much with tradition, so it’s no surprise that Tesla recently announced that its Model 3 will be completely vegan friendly, doing away with its leather interior and replacing it with cloth interiors. The move has been in the works for years, with PETA working with the automaker to make the adjustment. “By ditching leather, including in its car seats, Tesla is sparing countless cows the cruelty inherent in the leather industry and staying true to its focus on sustainability,” PETA said. PETA wasn’t necessarily looking for a cloth, and in fact has clarified that the organization Is more interested in a premium fake leather over cloth. PETA’s website went on to explain, “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.”
The move was announced after PETA representatives brought up the issue at a recent shareholder meeting. Musk promised to comply, but the challenge of a leather-free steering wheel caused some issues. “I believe we were close having a non-heated steering wheel that’s not leather,” Musk reportedly said at the shareholder meeting. “There are some challenges when heat the non-leather material and also how well it wears over time.” Tesla came up with a “Tesla Synthetic Material” that will be used to cover the steering wheel.
Musk also announced that the upcoming Model Y would be free of animal hide by 2020. Buyers who would still like to have a leather interior can get that option for their Tesla, though Tesla owners, more so than other segments of car owners, tend to be a bit more supportive of greener initiatives.