Last March Volvo Cars, the Swedish automaker owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, announced that it planned to only build and sell fully electric cars starting in 2030. This week the automaker added a second goal by the same date, to fully complete the use of leather in their vehicles.
The Swedish firm also said that by 2025, it wanted a quarter of the material used in its new cars “to consist of recycled content and of biological origin” understanding that the second section does not include the skin of dead animals. Volvo also announced that as part of its climate action plans, it aims for all its immediate suppliers, including material suppliers, to use 100% renewable energy by 2025.
The first Volvo that does not offer the option of leather upholstery in its seats is the electric version with a sloped roof of the XC40 compact crossover that will be known as the Volvo C40 Recharge which has just started to be built in Belgium. From then on all new Volvos, with powertrains 100% dependent on electricity as a power source, will be offered without the option of leather seats.
For the past decade, Volvo has offered leather options that are as luxurious and durable as the original material. Among these materials is a textile compound called Nordic, made up of recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles, plant fibers from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and recycled corks from the wine industry.
Volvo also announced that it will “continue to offer wool blend options from suppliers who are certified to source responsibly” demonstrating that Volvo understands animal welfare as part of the concept of sustainability. In fact, Stuart Templar, Volvo Cars’ director of global sustainability, said that “finding products and materials that support animal welfare will be a challenge, but that is no reason to avoid this important problem,” then added that “responsible sourcing it is an important part of that work, including respect for animal welfare ”.
Volvo is not the only automaker to ditch the leather in the cabs of its electric vehicles, but it is the only one so far to commit to the total elimination of the material for a certain date. Porsche, for example, offers a leather-free cabin option for the interior of the Taycan, its four-door electric sports car, while in August 2019, Tesla announced that the interior of its compact Model 3 was “100% leather-free.” as would be the model Y compact crossover. At that time, questioned by a representative of the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA for its acronym in English, Elon Musk the president of the company refused to date the removal of the leather on the rest of their vehicles.