Who needs cows anyway?
Luxury automakers tend to wrap their seats in leather made from cowhides, but there are a few exceptions. Audi offers recycled microfiber on its new e-tron GT, Jaguar Land Rover utilizes recycled materials, Maserati has several silk interior options, and McLaren provides a cashmere option. But among the automakers that offer beautiful leather substitutes, few do it better than Swedish automaker Volvo.
Volvo's interiors already look stunning, but these optional non-leather materials take the cabin designs to a whole new level.
"In the US, Volvo has recently introduced two textile interior options in addition to leatherette: Tailored Wool Blend is a sustainable material made from a blend of real wool and recycled polyester," a company spokesperson told CarBuzz. "It is a no-cost option on XC90 and XC60 Inscription models. City Weave textile is also offered as a no-cost option on V60 Cross Country and V60, S60, and XC60 Momentum models."
We recently experienced Volvo's Blonde City Weave (pictured here) when we tested the 2020 Volvo V60 wagon. Although opting for this interior restricts customers to the base T5 Momentum trim, we think the unique tartan theme is a worthy trade-off that dresses the cabin with a retro style competitors cannot match. Volvo wouldn't specify how many customers ordered their V60 with this interior, but it proved popular enough to expand the offering to the V60 Cross Country, S60 sedan, and XC60 crossover.
"The trend towards sustainable materials is increasing," says Rekha Meena, senior manager of design at Volvo Cars. "Volvo customers are very progressive and share the company's vision for a sustainable future. They have a passion for Scandinavian design."
It's tricky to pinpoint which automaker kicked off the move away from animal hides. Volvo believes changing consumers' opinions on leather will not happen overnight.
"I think behavioral changes don't happen very fast in an automotive world. And on top of it all, sustainable materials need to pass stringent test parameters, which is why change is gradual," Meena explains.
In addition to the City Weave textiles on the 60 series cars, Volvo's higher-end Inscription trim models now offer a Tailored Wool Blend. Meena calls this interior "a premium alternative to leather inspired by Scandinavian design. Wool is a natural material with good built-in properties, like dirt resistance and good climate capabilities, cooling when the weather is hot, and warming when the weather is cold. It's lighter than leather and reduces energy consumption that improves range."
"Scandinavian landscape is always our key inspiration," Meena adds. "Our color and material designers take inspiration from nature, lifestyle changes in the world, art, architecture, product design, fashion, etc."
Aside from looking beautiful, these non-leather interiors offer a few other tangible benefits. For example, textiles and vinyl are lightweight. They're also friendlier to animals than leather because they don't require killing cows.
"Every brand has its own vision, and Volvo is not only responsible for people's safety, but also the environment, Meena comments. "Volvo is always working on sustainability, and our interiors have material from waste, like the XC40 carpet that is made from 97% recycled PET bottles."
The next time you step into a Volvo dealership, find a model with one of these unique and sustainable interiors. We're sure you going to be suitably impressed.