When it came to car interiors, Leather seat covers and carbon fiber panels were considered the height of opulence. An expansive dashboard, and a steering wheel sporting that unmistakable black cross-hatch were often the sign that the car’s owner was someone who had money to burn.
But as the automotive industry is embracing green technology like hybrids, the time of vegan interior materials might be on the horizon.
Land Rover Creative Director Massimo Frascella explains that, half a decade ago, a leather couch was the zenith of luxury, now seen in the best hotels and homes. It’s similar, he says, for cars; going forward, sustainable design is allowing for change and development for vehicles.
Frascella arrived in Manhattan for the New York International Auto Show, which began April 19, where he revealed Land Rover’s successor to Leather seat covers, their latest development; leather-free and fully vegan materials, which they developed in order to outfit the 2020 Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar, and Jaguar I-Pace SUVs.
He explains that there’s an increasing concern amidst consumers regarding the provenance of textiles, and other materials in their vehicle. These new interiors are aimed to cater to the consumers who have their highest levels of luxury align with their eco beliefs.
The company’s key products includes Eucalyptus Melange, a textile produced from eucalyptus fibers that utilize significantly less water than most materials, and can be dyed to any specification. There’s also a durable wool blend made by Kvadrat, that feels like actual soft wool. Dinamica Suedecloth is a flameproof and extremely durable microfiber made from plastic bottles, 53 per vehicle, feeling and behaving similarly to suede. Combined, these materials provide a vegan option for the conscientious consumer.
Other carmakers are also introducing eco-conscious options to their car interiors, like Toyota Motor Corp., who makes seat cushion material with glycol taken from renewable sugar cane, rather than sourcing them from petroleum.
Audi AG’s VP for Product Management Filip Brabec says that this part of a global trend that’s growing, as consumers begin to understand more and more about how humanity as a whole inhabit the environment, as well as how and what we eat and consume.