Volvo cars announced recently that it will go leather-free in all pure electric cars as part of its animal welfare ambitions.
September 28, 2021
The new Volvo C40 Recharge will be designed strictly with vegan leather, an introduction to the automaker’s launch of its catalog of fully electric cars. By 2030, the company will offer only all-electric cars, and all of them leather-free.
Volvo Cars released a statement this week stating it is taking an ethical stand for animal welfare in its fully electric cars. The company — owned by Geely — has action plans that include requiring all of its immediate suppliers, including material suppliers, to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. That same year, 25% of the material in new Volvo cars will consist of recycled and bio-based content.
Moreover, Volvo Cars will reinvent itself as “a fully circular business by 2040.”
“We’ve got a new generation of customers coming through; they’re far more interested in the products they buy and having an ethical story behind them,” Robin Page, Volvo’s head of design, told Reuters in an interview. “They want to understand where the materials come from.”
Rather than offering its customers leather interior options, Volvo Cars will present alternatives such as high-quality sustainable materials that will require substituting for many materials currently used in the wider car industry.
Nordico is an example of a new interior material created by Volvo Cars; it will consist of textiles made from recycled material such as PET bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and corks recycled from the wine industry. The automaker will also continue to offer wool blend options from suppliers that are certified to source responsibly.
The impetus behind the move to vegan leather is based in company concerns about animal welfare — the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming, including deforestation. Livestock is estimated to be responsible for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, with the majority coming from cattle farming.
“Being a progressive car maker means we need to address all areas of sustainability, not just CO2 emissions,” said Stuart Templar, director of global sustainability at Volvo Cars. Because it has become evident at Volvo Cars that consumers are focused on the sustainability of the end product, Templar added that “responsible sourcing is an important part of that work, including respect for animal welfare. Going leather-free inside our pure electric cars is a good next step towards addressing this issue.”
In addition to vegan leather, Volvo Cars will investigate ways to reduce the use of residual products from livestock production commonly used within or in the production of plastics, rubber, lubricants, and adhesives, either as part of the material or as a process chemical in the material’s production or treatment. Recycled polyester will help the company to cut its carbon footprint, as will linen from flax plants grown in Sweden in between crops, which replenishes the soil. Volvo will also use flax fibers for door panels.