Earlier this year, Volvo announced it was ditching leather interiors and making its cars fully electric by 2030. The Volvo team spoke more about the decision on Thursday, explaining that the company was motivated by environmental and ethical concerns.
Volvo to go leather-free
Robin Page, Volvo’s head of Design, told Reuters that consumers are seeking out products with ‘an ethical story’.
“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,” Page said. “They want to understand where the materials come from.”
Volvo is exploring using materials like Nordico, which is made from forestry byproducts, recycled corks, and plastic bottles.
Page noted that the material offers the safe ‘softness and warmth’ as animal-derived leather.
Additionally, Volvo intends to use recycled polyester and linen made from flax plants. The latter is grown in Sweden between crops, which according to Reuters, ‘replenishes the soil’.
Further, the carmaker will use flax fibers for its door panels.
Livestock’s impact on the planet
“The company’s move towards leather-free interiors is also driven by a concern about the negative environmental impacts of cattle farming, including deforestation,” a press release reads.
It continues: “Livestock is estimated to be responsible for around 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activity, with the majority coming from cattle farming.”
Volvo’s Director of Global Sustainability, Stuart Templar, acknowledged that sustainable production must go further than emissions.
“Being a progressive car maker means we need to address all areas of sustainability, not just CO2 emissions,” 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.”
However, it’s not the end of animal products for Volvo. The company said it would still offer wool blend options, noting that the material is obtained from ‘supplies that are certified to source responsibly’.
Volvo’s shift to electric cars
Volvo’s first all-electric model with a leather-free interior was the 2022 C40 Recharge crossover coupe SUV.
The manufacturer has pledged to phase out all car models with internal combustion engines. This also includes hybrids – which were previously predicted to make up half of Volvo’s sales in 2025.
Henrik Green is Volvo’s chief technology officer. He said the brand ‘needed to switch focus’ – adding: “There’s no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine.”
The transition to fully electric cars will be complete by 2030.
This article was updated on September 24, 2021 to include new statements from Volvo and further information about the leather-free materials.