Some of the alternatives include "mushroom leather" or "jellyfish material."
Between the yoga-going millionaires of Los Angeles and the trust fund babies that overcorrect their privilege with ample amounts of social consciousness, Bentley has realized that marketing a luxury vehicle to fat cat vegans by touting the 20 hides it takes to make the leather interior is not exactly the best way to go. That's why, as Auto Express outlines, Bentley's Director of Design Stefan Sielaff has mentioned that the automaker is experimenting with alternative materials it can use in place of dead cow skin.
"You can't sell an animal-containing product like a Bentley, with 20 leather hides, to someone with a vegan lifestyle," Sielaff said. "We've been talking to these customers, in California especially, and they're asking us what can we give them. We do a lot of custom-made and coach-built solutions, in conjunction with our colleagues at Mulliner, and therefore we want to satisfy these customers because they are the peak of a trend." Interestingly enough, it's not just monied California hippies that demand a leather substitute, the Queen of England once famously spec'd her State Limousine with lambswool sateen cloth.
That's because, even though supple leather puts the senses in a state relaxation, the fact that it reflects the outside weather extremes by being hot or cold to touch can be uncomfortable to some. Of course, to the vegans, the demand for a change has to do with the materials used. If not hide, then what can Bentley's interior design team be cooking up that will feel just as luxurious? "We will shortly present a Bentley with a vegan interior; it'll give you a luxury sensation but with a different way - protein leather, mushroom leather, jellyfish material." It may take some time until we see a finished product, however, and a Bentley spokesperson was adamant about giving a deadline.
To be fair, developing a new material that feels luxurious, meets strenuous reliability demands, and does not call upon a craft that has been perfected by humans since as far back as 20,000 BC, is quite a chore. "We are working on exploring at the moment what will be the Bentley design language of the future, " said Sielaff. "When we do this big step. It's a nice philosophical discussion because we have certain elements in Bentley proportion - short front overhang, long rear overhang - and we are asking how much we can change these proportions, and whether it still be recognizable as a Bentley?" Bentley or not, if the engineers manage to nail down a concrete alternative, then we may see car interiors of the future change forever.