You read the title right.
For every automaker, leather upholstery is one of the most common luxury features available. It has been for a long time, meaning an awful lot of cows have been slaughtered so that we can enjoy their hides rubbing up against our own skin. However, because of growing concern for animal welfare, there's a new trend where no animal by-products are used in cars. Tesla, for example, has removed leather upholstery in favor of vegan seating. Bentley is considering doing the same. And now, according to Australia’s Drive, Jaguar Land Rover is following suit.
Specifically, the UK automaker predicts Velar customers are more ethically conscious, and is now offering a cloth option instead of leather. This premium cloth is actually an Australian and New Zealand-sourced wool blend. What’s interesting about it is that it’s combined with a faux suede made from recycled plastic bottles. And – get this – it’s even more expensive than leather seats. Going vegan in the new Range Rover Velar also gets buyers the new perforated “Luxtec” leatherette covering the dash and doors tops, instead of leather. But it’s not only Land Rover customers who are concerned about animal welfare, but also its design director, Gerry McGovern. “The attitude towards animal by-products is changing.
That whole world of luxury is becoming more sophisticated and people are looking for ways to reconcile the way we use the world to create these products, things like fabrics that are more sustainable and have a better sustainable footprint,” McGovern explained. “Personally, I’d be quite happy to move away from leather tomorrow. I don’t like that we have to slaughter all those cows to create leather.” And don’t think this new wool blend is a one-time thing. No, Jaguar Land Rover is seriously considering offering it in future models. But doesn’t it seem a bit odd that this non-leather is more expensive than leather?
“You wouldn’t believe the anguish the whole idea of having a premium fabric in a car caused, particularly within the marketing group,” McGovern admitted. “We’ve been so ingrained within the automotive industry to thinking that when it comes to a premium or luxury product it has to be leather, it has to be real wood….Fabric has always been seen as something as low end. The difference here is that it is a premium fabric that has a comparable price to leather.”