February 13th 2023
The Most Vegan-friendly and Innovative Auto Manufacturers in 2023 BY Isabel Putinja
With the movement towards reducing the carbon footprint of motor vehicles, as well as ethical considerations and the increasing move towards sustainability, vegan-friendly cars are having their moment. In recent years, auto manufacturers have been turning to using vegan materials in car interiors, especially plant-based leather for seat upholstery.
Is there such a thing as a vegan car?
But does a completely vegan car exist, or can we only settle on the term “vegan-friendly”? Unfortunately, there’s a wide range of materials used in car production that are not vegan. Examples include gelatine found in protective coatings, lanoline and beeswax in paint, and tallow in elastomers like rubber. But using cruelty-free plant-based leathers is a move in the right direction.
Many auto makers have made vegan car interiors standard
Thanks to a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), exposing the cruelty of leather in car interiors, auto manufacturers have woken up and leather-free upholstery is on its way to becoming a standard feature. Following its European Vegan Car Interior Survey, PETA has published a handy list classified by car maker of the models featuring vegan interiors as standard, or available on request.
Which are the most vegan-friendly auto manufacturers in 2023?
We’ve had a look at PETA’s list as well as a ranking of the most vegan-friendly auto manufacturers of 2023 according to a ranking published recently by UK-based Dick Lovett car dealership.
Below we’re sharing the top five most innovative and forward-looking car makers for 2023 who have come around to the idea that a luxury car is one that that’s as cruelty-free as possible.
Ford is on top with 30 vegan-friendly car models
The US auto manufacturer, the Ford Motor Company, is number one when it comes to vegan-friendly cars, with 30 models produced by Ford featuring cruelty-free interiors.
This means a huge majority of Ford cars are fitted with all-vegan upholstery and steering wheels. The F-150 Lightning electric truck goes the extra mile with seat cushions made of soy foam, and recycled tires used for the gaskets and seals which protect the engine from damage from oils, coolants, and lubricants.
Meanwhile, PETA’s survey revealed that vegan interiors are standard in all Ford cars available for purchase in Europe.
Honda comes second with 21 cars with cruelty-free interiors
Japanese motor company Honda boasts 21 cars on its production line with non-leather upholstery available either as standard or on request. According to PETA’s survey, the CR-V and HR-V are the two models fitted out with vegan interiors (in Europe), while this cruelty-free option is available for many other models.
Not everyone is keen on faux leather car interiors though, insisting on the idea that only the “real thing” will do. There’s still an association between “real leather” and luxury in many people’s minds. This may be why it’s actually a bit difficult to come by more specific information on the Honda website about their car interiors, though we did come across a reference to “leatherette” seating in a description of the CR-V.
Vauxhall has 20 leather-free car models on offer for 2023
British car company Vauxhall is in third place, with 20 models suitable for vegan and eco-conscious drivers. For a whopping 18 of these, leather-free interiors are standard, including the entry model Astra, and the Combo Life and Vivaro Life electric vans. This includes not only seat and steering wheel covers made of cruelty-free leather, but also gear shift and handbrake handles, and dashboard covers.
Mercedes Benz comes 4th on the vegan-friendly list with 19 models
The German automobile manufacturer Mercedes Benz is redefining the meaning of luxury thanks to the cruelty-free features in many of its high-end cars: 19 in total. A handful of their models are kitted out with vegan interiors straight off the production line, including the B-Class and V-Class, and the 2023 EQS and EQE in their electric vehicle range.
What sets Mercedes Benz apart from other car makers is its pioneering use of its human-made “Artico leather” for its luxury vehicles, which has been developed in-house and many easily confuse for the real thing. Meanwhile, some models feature Dinamica, a cruelty-free microfibre with a realistic suede-like feel created by an Italian company called Miko.
For the car maker’s forthcoming VISION EQXX model with a 2024 planned release, the eco-friendly interiors go a step further with vegan leathers made from mushroom and cactus.
Close behind in 5th place is Nissan with 18 models featuring cruelty-free interiors
Japanese auto manufacturer Nissan offers a vegan-friendly ride thanks to models like the all-electric Nissan Leaf which comes with a leather-free option for its seat upholstery, steering wheel, and gear shift. It was back in 2019, that the forward-looking company’s program design director had announced that Nissan was “… going into the realm of vegan leather and synthetics, but celebrating it and making it cool.”