Leather upholstery in vehicle interiors has long been established as an upgrade as it offers better comfort as well as durability versus fabric. Volvo, after receiving an overwhelming response from a study on consumption and sustainability, will progressively end the use of animal leather in their interiors and more.
By 2025, the company is aiming for 25% of the material in new Volvo cars to consist of recycled and bio-based content, as part of its ambition to be a fully circular business by 2040.
Citing surveys on consumers of luxury goods, two-thirds of the respondents consider a brand’s environmental policies as a critical factor, together with carbon labelling as a means of providing greater transparency on the environmental impacts of products and materials.
Volvo, being a luxury brand, is more convinced than ever on its approach to ending the usage of animal leather in its interiors. The company’s move was first driven by a concern about the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming, contributing to approximately 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.
High-quality sustainable materials made from bio-based and recycled sources will line the interior of EVs at the initial stage, as seen in the new Volvo C40 Recharge. Items made from recycled plastic or sustainable materials include trim panels, carpets (from recycled plastic bottles) as well as upholstery from renewable wool fibres or suede textile (from recycled plastic).
Volvo has also created a new material called Nordico, which consists of textiles made from recycled material such as plastic bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, and corks recycled from the wine industry. This material will make its debut in the next generation of Volvo models.
Volvo will also 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.
As for having a line-up of zero-emission vehicles, Volvo has scheduled 2030 as the year they phase out the combustion engine.
Volvo is certainly not alone in this path of using sustainable, non-animal materials for upholstery. The latest Audi A3 can be fitted with seat coverings made from recycled bottles, to the tune of up to 45 bottles required per car.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has been using ‘Artico man-made leather’ in the interiors for many years, even in an executive limousine like the facelifted Mercedes-Benz E 200 Avantgarde.
Higher-range BMW models have man-made Sensatec material lined the dashboard, with many CKD BMW models sticking to Dakota or Vernasca leathers as the preferred choice of seat upholstery.