For the past couple of years, veganism as a movement has refused to slow down. In 2021, it hit headlines that a record-breaking half a million people had signed up for Veganuary; a challenge run by the non-profit organisation of the same name that encourages people globally to try “going vegan” for the first month of the New Year. With double the amount of people signing up for the challenge as in previous years, it became clear that people were gaining interest in being more eco-conscious. Since then, the 2022 challenge amassed 629,000 sign-ups, showing that the movement won’t be slowing anytime soon.
As time goes on, sustainability has become a popular topic of discussion throughout many different sectors. So much so, that it is now one of the most prominent growing trends in the transport industry. With consumers becoming more aware of the positive impact vegan-friendly and sustainable materials have on the planet, it’s no surprise that many car makers are now incorporating man-made alternatives to elements of vehicles previously upholstered using animal by-products. We have seen features such as faux-leather steering wheels and trim made from natural fibres become a regular component in new vehicles as demand continues to grow.
Now, before we jump in, we will preface: no car is 100% vegan, yet. According to Dominika Piasecka, a spokesperson for the Vegan Society: "The bottom line is that there’s no such thing as a 100% vegan car, unfortunately. The key with veganism is trying to do your best. It’s not possible to be 100% vegan in this imperfect world but we can avoid animal suffering as much as possible. Avoiding leather is a practical thing we can do while buying a car, while we can’t of course avoid tyres or steel."
With this in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at which manufacturers as of January 2023 offer the highest number of luxury vegan-friendly cars for those wanting to do their best, in style.
Top 25 Vegan-Friendly Car Manufacturers
In first place is Ford, who currently has a reported 30 car models with vegan-friendly details and more eco-friendly swaps upon request. The Ford Fiesta has without a doubt continued to be one of the best-selling cars in the UK for years, with the popularity also extending across Europe. The car combines comfort, value for money, and performance, with a huge variety of interior choices. The latest models all come with non-leather seats as standard, including the Style, Zetec, B&O Play Zetec and Ford EcoBoost.
All Fiestas, with the exception of the Style (Base Model), are fitted with leather steering wheels, however, these can be replaced with a non-leather alternative upon request, whilst the Ford Mustang Mach-E comes standard with all-vegan interiors, including a vegan steering wheel.
The 2023 release of the electric F-150 Lightning truck also features seat cushions made from soy foam and vegan leather covers, with seals and gaskets coming from recycled tyres. The upcoming 2024 Electric Bronco also follows the same trend, featuring vegan leather as standard.
Also making the Top 5 is Mercedes-Benz, with a total of 19 models with vegan-friendly attributes. The B-Class, A, CLA Coupé, CLA Shooting Brake and V-Class all come with a vegan interior as standard, whilst the Smart Fortwo is leather-free. The AMG GLB 35 is available to be requested with a choice of either Mercedes' Artico man-made leather or Dinamica, a type of man-made suede. When it comes to the A-Class, you can either specify fabric seats, or Artico, but be aware that it comes with a real leather interior unless requested otherwise. In contrast, the A-Class limousine comes with a vegan interior as standard, but a special order is required for the wheel.
When it comes to the electric range, the 2023 EQS and EQE both come with a vegan interior as standard, and the VISION EQXX (2024 release) will be constructed with an interior made from mushroom and cactus ‘leather’, bamboo and bio-based vegan silk to create a pioneering luxury interior that is also environmentally friendly.
Around the middle of the list, we have Land Rover. The range of vegan-friendly models includes the Range Rover Velar; referred to as the optimal vegan-friendly car for off-roading, as it’s sold with the option of incorporating Range Rover's ‘Premium Textile’ fabric. This option includes an artificial suede steering wheel, artificial suede seats, and faux leather for the dashboard. The Range Rover Evoque gives potential buyers the option to swap out the cowhides at no additional cost, for a steering wheel wrapped in faux-suede, and seat upholstery made of eucalyptus fibres.
Thanks to a new collaboration with the animal-free leather brand, Ultrafabrics, buyers of the new Land Rover Range Rover will now be able to specify a completely vegan interior for the first time. The material used is said to generate just a quarter of the carbon dioxide emissions real leather does.
The Land Rover Discovery comes with vegan interiors as standard, incorporating an ebony textile into the design which attributes to the car’s vegan-friendly credentials. Similarly, the Land Rover Defender comes with vegan interiors as standard, utilising their Resolve textile.
BMW currently supports five vegan-friendly models including the i3, 3 Series and 5 Series. The 3 and 5 Series both come with BMW’s sensatec faux-leather upholstery, whilst the i3 takes the eco-friendly element to a whole new level. It is an electric car, the majority of which is made from carbon fibre; a material that is 95% recyclable, according to BMW. Segments of wood throughout the dashboard are taken from trees that have grown throughout the monsoon season, leaving a smaller impact on the environment, and the variety of interior options includes a cloth upholstery alternative. The BMW iX, i4 and iX3 are all available with an interior made up of vegan-friendly alternatives, which include vegan leather and microfiber cloth.
CEO Oliver Zipse has stated;
Our goal is clear: We want to further close the material cycles to protect nature’s finite resources and use them even more efficiently.
Now, we couldn’t talk about luxury vegan-friendly car options without mentioning Tesla. As Tesla cars are all-electric this means that they don’t consume gasoline, which emits greenhouse gases and therefore does not contribute directly to creating carbon dioxide. The manufacturer currently supports 4 cars with ecologically-friendly attributes: X, 3, S and Y. Whilst the X and S both have leather-free seats, the 3 comes with synthetic materials used all throughout its cabin, with Tesla claiming that the interior of the car is 100% leather-free. The Y also consists of completely leather-free interiors.
MINI also utilises many man-made materials within the MINI Hatchback; the base model Classic includes cloth seats and faux leather on both the gearstick and handbrake. MINI’s head of design pledged at the beginning of 2021 that all designs moving forward would be made more sustainably.
For those who want a more luxurious, rather than a day-to-day car, the Porche Taycan is an electric sports car, obtainable with non-leather choices and Porsche's Race-Tex microfibre, which is similar to a semisynthetic suede. Not to mention, the floor coverings are manufactured from recycled fishing nets. With the number of people turning to veganism and being more conscious about the types of materials they opt for, it’s important that brands offer options to suit this audience.
We researched the most vegan-friendly cars by brand, utilising resources from PETA, in order to create an overall list of the car manufacturers offering the most vegan and eco-friendly models as of January 2023. We were then able to create a ranking table based on our findings.