Learn about the latest trends in the automotive world.. Details

Leather is usually the symbol of luxury in the automotive industry. But the need to preserve the environment requires car manufacturers to abandon leather and replace it with materials suitable for the environment. Is it possible to do without leather in the manufacture of the interior parts of the car?

It could be a vintage Mercedes, a Rolls-Royce from the Roaring Twenties or an Audi A8 super sports car. But despite the obvious differences between these three cars, you’ll notice one thing in common once you sit inside. : the same smell emanating from the seats made of the same material: leather. Leather is the epitome of luxury, according to Mark Leitch, head of design at the German car company Audi: “Since the time of horse-drawn carriages, and for more than 120 years, the world’s automotive industry has always been the epitome of luxury. .”

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In general, the more a car company wanted to make its cars more impressive, the more leather it used. For example, to completely upholster a Rolls-Royce Phantom, an amount of leather from around 12 cows is required. But in this era in which intellectual values ​​are rapidly changing, and after the consumer has become more aware of the need to preserve the environment, the attractiveness of learning has begun to decline, and car companies are eager to leave new impressions of themselves. , which made car designers look for a new title for luxury, according to Leitch. “We want to keep up with this change in intellectual values ​​and push it forward by using a new type of material,” explains the head of Audi’s design department.

A few months ago, Leitch unveiled the new i-tron concept, Audi’s first all-electric car, with plenty of high-tech features, including a bright front grille badge and high-resolution touchscreens in the dashboard. And advanced lamps that work with light. -emitting diode technology known as “LED” on the front and back of the car, without using a single piece of leather as part of the car’s components. “We are testing a new, high-quality material made from bamboo fibers that is compatible with the environmental aspect of the electric car, and it has a promising opportunity to enter the production phase,” says Leitch.

On the same topic, Gerry McGovern, head of design at the famous British car company Land Rover, talks about entering a new era, and emphasizes this idea by referring to the interior design of the new Range Rover Velar. “One of our colleagues here from the color and finish department is completely vegan, and she raised the question to us as to whether leather is still the best choice for interiors,” he added. British car companies are not yet ready to abandon leather entirely for fear of losing some traditional customers, but with the Velar, Range Rover shows for the first time a car with seats that are not wrapped in leather, but in another elegant and refined handmade material.

Some car designers still cling to the well-established elements that add quality and value to their cars. “Leather has always been an expression of luxury, so no matter how high-end an alternative material is, a customer will from the start thinking about it is cheap,” explains Leitch. So he would worry that it would be difficult to charge the same price for a car in the absence of learning, but still give the consumer the same learning feeling. But this does not mean that the car industry does not try on its part, as it actively works on ways to improve the brand image of the materials it uses. For example, Land Rover chose the prestigious Danish furniture company Kvadrat to use the materials for the interiors of the car Villar. “Thanks to the prestigious brand name that appeals to the ears, the Kvadrat company compensates for the weakness in the reputation of the materials used inside the car,” says McGovern, noting that the price of the Velar equipped with a Kvadrat interior equipped is the same. as the price of the car with high quality leather interior parts.

Other manufacturers have used non-leather interiors in response to consumer pressure. When Tesla unveiled its X car, company president Elon Musk received a petition from PETA demanding the use of a “vegan” cabin. Silicon Valley-based Tesla proudly says that because the petition had thousands of signatures, Musk didn’t hesitate to back down from using leather in a Model X production line and replace it with an alternative synthetic material in that car’s seat upholstery not. The steering wheel and door liner are covered in faux leather.

Lotus Vogner, Professor of Design at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Pforzheim, Germany, confirms that there is an increasing tendency to use a mix of materials compatible with the concept of sustainability in car interiors, especially with regard to the search for alternatives to learning. But he says the use of the term “vegan car” is somewhat exaggerated, explaining that “anyone promoting an all-vegan car is probably trying to ride the wave and exploit the term.” In fact, this trend has not yet gained enough momentum, especially for the vintage car companies. This is confirmed by the German giant Mercedes company, in the words of its spokesperson, Zelke Koegler, who says: “Worldwide, and in every sector of the car, we offer models equipped with leather-free interiors, but due to the very poor demand for this class, we always make these cars individually.

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