Volvo to ditch leather seats in a drive to new vegan-friendly cars

Volvo to ditch leather seats in vegan-friendly cars

Machinery
Volvo is ditching leather for seats and car interiors but "sustainably sourced" wool remains in favour. Pictures: Volvo.

Volvo is ditching leather for seats and car interiors but "sustainably sourced" wool remains in favour. Pictures: Volvo.

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Swedish car-maker Volvo is ditching leather seats as part of an environmentally friendly makeover for its new fleet of electric cars.

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Swedish car-maker Volvo is ditching leather seats as part of an environmentally friendly makeover for its new fleet of electric cars.

But wool-blend seats and interiors will still be part of Volvo's future because of its sustainable credentials.

Volvo, owned by the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in China, has already announced plans to offer only fully electric cars by 2030 - all of them will be leather free.

Now the company "is working actively to find high-quality and sustainable sources" for many materials used in the car industry.

"We have a vision of where we need to go in the future, with the first step to ensure we harness sustainable, natural and recycled materials," Volvo Cars head of design Robin Page said late last week.

"The next challenge is to change what we do with these materials, whether that's making car parts that last forever, re-enter the circular economy or go back into the earth."

Volvo Cars says it is "taking an ethical stand for animal welfare" in its fully electric cars by banning the use of leather.

By 2025, the company is aiming for 25 per cent of the material in new Volvo cars to consist of recycled and biobased content, as it looks to become a fully circular business by 2040.

As part of its climate action plans, it also aims for all of its immediate suppliers, including material suppliers, to use 100pc renewable energy by 2025.

Volvo says its move towards leatherfree interiors is also driven by a concern about the "negative environmental impacts of cattle farming", including deforestation.

"Livestock is estimated to be responsible for around 14pc of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, with the majority coming from cattle farming," the company said.

Instead of leather, Volvo will offer its customers alternatives such as sustainable materials made from biobased and recycled sources.

Volvo has taken aim at the beef industry.

Volvo has taken aim at the beef industry.

A new interior material created by Volvo called Nordico will consist of recycled material such as plastic bottles, bioattributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and corks recycled from the wine industry.

"Volvo will also continue to offer wool blend options from suppliers that are certified to source responsibly, as the company looks to ensure full traceability and animal welfare in its wool supply chain," the company said.

'Wool is kind of miraculous. It doesn't get the respect it deserves," the company detailed in a report on "the rise of tomorrow's materials".

"It can be so beautiful and is such a versatile material. It's durable, longlasting, self-cleaning and, importantly, natural," its report found.

MORE READING: Are there enough charging stations to give electric cars the range?

"In addition, wool is also naturally flame-retardant, and its unique composition means there is no need to add chemicals to achieve these superpower features."

Volvo is also looking to reduce the use of residual products from livestock production commonly used within or in the production of plastics, rubber, lubricants and adhesives, either as part of the material or as a process chemical in the material's production or treatment.

"Finding products and materials that support animal welfare will be challenging, but that is no reason to avoid this important issue," Volvo Cars director of global sustainability Stuart Templar said.

Volvo sold 661,713 cars last year in about 100 countries including Australia.

Volvo has already been criticised by the organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals which said Volvo should move faster to stop using leather.

PETA also took issue with the continued use of wool in their car interiors.

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