Leather-upholstered seats on their way out?
With the ‘vegan’ trend booming and consumers getting more and more aware of what it takes to build a car, will (genuine) leather-upholstered seats disappear from the options list?
After Tesla going all ‘vegan’ for its car interiors, one magazine announced lately that Jaguar – Land Rover may follow the path. JLR Belgium’s spokesperson Isabelle Michiels moderates the statement. “We will not stop to offer leather seats to our clients. But we offer them a new alternative”.
“It is a fabric composed of wool and synthetic suede created from recycled plastic”, she explains. “It doesn’t come from a consumer demand, because we are nearly to 100% leather interiors. The idea came from our own side”.
“We are living in a world where respect for nature and animals is a priority. Yet, the leather production is quite polluting even if huge efforts have been made on that side”, adds the JLR spokesperson.
Leather in 1st place
“We at Mercedes don’t record any significant demand from customers”, explains Christophe Vloebergh spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz Belgium. “The number of people desiring something else than leather isn’t increasing. Yet though we offer a multitude of alternatives with cloth, leatherette and all the possible mixes. We have done that for years”.
“We are also a known ‘taxi’ brand, and therefor only leatherette is used. We have realized huge progress in that sector and today you’ll need an expert’s eye to tell the difference between real and synthetic leather”. For the Stuttgart car maker, leather is still holds the 1st place in terms of demand.
Not everything in leather
For seats upholsterer Giovanni from Auto Cuir Design, some high end luxury cars can use up to 15 cow hides for one interior, but normal cars mostly only use two. “Everything depends on what finish you want. Whether you want perfect leather or can you tolerate some shortcomings?”
“But when you buy a car with a leather interior you don’t have to forget that while the seat’s bottom and backrest are in leather, the sides are often covered in synthetic leather. You won’t see the difference”, he explains. Giovanni confirms that for him, there is no ‘leather crisis’ and numerous car drivers still want to have genuine leather seats.