Volvo Cars is committed to animal welfare as part of its journey to become a more sustainable automaker, starting with its new C40 Recharge, a fully leatherless electric crossover coupe SUV. By 2030, Volvo aims to sell only electric cars made with leather-free interiors as part of its goal of becoming a circular business by 2040. While Volvo previously announced plans to remove leather from its interiors , the automaker is fulfilling its commitment. further by actively seeking to eliminate by-products from the livestock industry — which she admits contributes the majority of the 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions created by the livestock industry. animal agriculture.
“As a progressive automaker, it is our responsibility to address all areas of sustainability, not just carbon emissions,” Stuart Templar, Volvo’s global sustainability director, told VegNews. “We are fully committed to finding solutions for a more sustainable future in order to protect the security of future generations of our planet. As the automaker cuts ties with the livestock industry, Volvo cars will continue to offer wool blend options from “suppliers certified to source responsibly.”
Volvo’s commitments to animal welfare are inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular goal number 12 (to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns) and goal number 15 (which is linked to the protection of biodiversity and all living beings). By 2025, Volvo aims for 25% of materials in new Volvo models to be recycled and bio-based content and aims for all of its immediate suppliers, including material suppliers, to use 100% renewable energy in this delay.
“As a driven company, Volvo Cars wants to address all areas of sustainability and our ambition for animal welfare is part of our holistic approach to sustainability,” said Templar. “It is also an important ethical issue, a societal value strongly supported by the public and consumers around the world.”
Volvo does without leather
Instead of leather, Volvo will explore a variety of animal-free materials such as Nordico, a new interior material that will debut in the next generation of Volvo models. Created by Volvo, this new textile is made from recycled materials such as PET bottles, bio-attributed materials from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and recycled corks from the wine industry.
With these changes, Volvo aims to set a standard of sustainability for the rest of the automotive industry and to keep its business competitive in an age when consumers seek all types of animal-free products and services. “Our animal welfare ambitions and sustainability commitments, including the decision to phase out leather, are also strongly anchored in a change in customer behavior,” said Templar. “We are seeing a growing trend in consumer demands for more sustainable materials and in particular alternatives to leather in most of our key markets due to concerns about animal welfare and the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming. . We share these concerns and would therefore like to move away from leather by helping to reduce demands. “
Car manufacturers are abandoning leather
Volvo is one of a growing number of automakers who have started offering leatherless interiors to better serve their customers and the planet. In 2015, Tesla shareholders urged the company to offer leatherless options, which it delivered later in the year in the form of an “ultra white vegan” interior as a purchase option. ‘shares in the Model X. In 2016, the company extended the option to all of its models and began working on a leather-less steering wheel, the only part that previously could not be ordered without leather. In 2019, Tesla removed the last piece of cowhide from the Model 3’s steering wheel, making it a completely leather-less vehicle.
Other automakers such as Audi, BMW and Volkswagen have also explored concepts without leather. Like Volvo, British automaker MINI pledged earlier this year to phase out leather from its future models as part of a sustainability offering. “We don’t need leather any more in the future, because we don’t believe it is sustainable,” said Oliver Heilmer, head of design at MINI. Coach.
Are vegan cars possible?
While many automakers are removing animal products from interiors, Volvo points out that from tires to glues, cars are typically made with a variety of animal by-products, which means that a truly vegan car is difficult to clean. to manufacture. “Volvo Cars wants to educate industry and consumers about the use of materials containing animal products in cars today by being transparent and upfront about the challenges we see in the industry,” said Templar .
Despite these challenges, Volvo takes an ethical stance against the use of cattle industry by-products and will strive to eliminate cow-derived waste from its vehicles.
“When it comes to design and on-board materials, we certainly see the future of the automotive industry becoming more sustainable with textiles made from bio-based and recycled sources,” Templar said.
“As part of our ambition to completely eliminate leather, we have developed new, high-quality materials made from sustainable sources to replace leather,” Templar said. “In addition, we are also looking to reduce the use of residual plastic, rubber, lubricants and adhesives, either as an integral part of the material or as a process chemical in production or processing. material processing. We are aware that it will be a long journey, but we think it is worth it and we would like to call others to join us.
To inspire the rest of the auto industry to make a similar change, Volvo (in partnership with forecasting firm The Future Laboratory) is releasing The rise of conscious design, a detailed report on the proliferation of sustainable materials, especially vegan leathers made from plant-based materials, and the consumer demand behind them.
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