Volvo announced Thursday that all its new fully-electric vehicles rolling off the assembly lines will be completely leather-free, saying that in doing so the company is taking both a stand against animal cruelty and a step toward fighting climate change.
The Swedish automaker owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group has committed to making its entire fleet of vehicles completely vegan-friendly by the end of the decade, when it plans to sell only fully electric cars.
“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,” Volvo head of design Robin Page told Reuters. “They want to understand where the materials come from.”
Volvo not only wants to phase out the use of cattle hides for its vehicle interiors – it hopes the move might lead to some beef production being phased out, too.
“The company’s move towards leather-free interiors is also driven by a concern about the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming, including deforestation,” the company’s press release reads, adding that “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,” Volvo director of global sustainability Stuart Templar said in a statement. “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.”
While some animal-rights activists might praise the move, organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) says Volvo needs to step it up.
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk – who notes that she is the owner of a “100% vegan smart car” – told FOX Business in a statement, “Volvo is moving in the right direction, but given that it takes three to eight cow hides to line the interior of just one car and a PETA video exposé revealed that workers branded, beat, and electroshocked cows for leather car interiors, the company needs to hit the accelerator and agree to go leather-free within nine months, not nine years.”
In its press release, Volvo had also noted that it would “continue to offer wool blend options from suppliers that are certified to source responsibly, as the company looks to ensure full traceability and animal welfare in its wool supply chain.”
Newkirk took issue with that, too.
She told FOX Business, “As for wool, that has to go, too, as our video exposés inside shearing sheds and in the sheep’s final parking spot, slaughterhouses, show.”