Volvo has announced that it will no longer use animal-sourced leather in its all-electric vehicles (EVs). The first EV unavailable with animal leather will be the new C40 Recharge, which will arrive later this year. It won't be the last to ditch genuine leather. In making the announcement, Volvo said that every EV it produces would be leather-free. Since the automaker plans on having half of its sales volume be fully electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030, that's a fair number of cow-free interiors.
Like other automakers and a growing number of fashion brands, Volvo is looking to use more recycled and renewable materials to make its products. The automaker has a plan to become a fully circular business by 2040.
"Being a progressive car maker means we need to address all areas of sustainability, not just CO2 emissions," said Stuart Templar, director of global sustainability at Volvo Cars, in a statement. "Responsible sourcing is an important part of that work, including respect for animal welfare. Going leather-free inside our pure electric cars is a good next step towards addressing this issue."
To replace the leather on things like seats, the steering wheel, and the shifter, Volvo will use what it calls "high-quality, sustainable materials made from bio-based and recycled sources." That will likely include Nordico, a textile developed by Volvo made from recycled plastic and sustainable plant-based materials, or responsibly farmed wool.
Getting leather out of luxury vehicles has been a mission for some animal rights activists for years. In 2019, PETA published its Leather-Free Car Interior Guide that listed cars with vegan interiors for which the group spent a long time pushing. That effort wasn't for nothing, as industry analysts expect the global vegan leather market to reach $87.7 billion in value by 2025.
These changes are all part of a pattern that Volvo is trying to get ahead of. Working with The Future Laboratory, the automaker released a report this week about the "era of conscious design." In it, Volvo highlights why luxury car shoppers will be more and more interested in vehicles with strong sustainability bona fides. Volvo believes the COVID-19 pandemic has hastened an increase in desire for greener products since it "led to a renaissance of love for wildlife and nature among consumers," the report said. Volvo also pointed to the Winter 2020 Vogue Business Index, which found that two-thirds of consumers think that a brand's environmental policies are "a critical factor when purchasing luxury products."