Tesla has been working, as their motto states, to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” in everything they do. The California-based electric automaker’s new interior material option is their latest addition to this effort. Tesla will now only offer non-animal seating material instead of leather for the premium interior option, a Tesla spokesman confirmed.
This was a natural move for Tesla, as there is a correlation between electric car buyers and the vegetarian/vegan community. No announcement has been made about the change, and the updates to Tesla’s options on the website were done quietly.
Representatives for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were excited to see the change, especially as the advocacy group is one of Tesla’s shareholders. This change had been discussed at Tesla’s 2015 annual meeting, where PETA representatives explained how using vegan leather would reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
In a recent blog post, PETA let its supporters know that Tesla “will now offer only vegan seats to consumers.” Although some cars will still come with a leather steering wheel, there is a “cruelty-free vegan” option offered upon request.
A Tesla representative was only able to confirm this transition for the Models S and X—Tesla’s core, high-end vehicles. However, CEO Elon Musk appeared to confirm via Twitter that the synthetic leather will also be an option in the new, mass-market Model 3, Tesla’s $35,000 electric sedan.
Writers for the green energy blog Electrek noticed how quickly any reference to leather disappeared on Tesla’s online configurations, making the new premium interior package only available with the synthetic leather.
Current Tesla owners have given good reviews on the vegan option, calling them “quite durable and comfortable.”
Other automakers are also trying to adjust to this eco-minded trend. Bentley has been using materials derived from mushrooms and jellyfish, which isn’t far off the process Tesla uses.
“PETA will continue to urge all companies to follow Tesla’s lead in choosing sustainability and kindness over cruelty,” said Anne Brainard, PETA's Director of Corporate Affairs.
Once again, it looks as though Tesla will be leading the way in another industry trend.