Are car manufacturers going to be transparant about their interiors?

Are car manufacturers going to be transparent about their interiors?

Frankfurt Motor Show | Are car manufacturers going to be transparent about their interiors?

As fans gather to witness the unveiling of new car models one question remains – will the car industry have a better understanding of the sustainability of leather versus materials derived from finite resources and be transparent in both its labelling of alternative materials and in its communication with customers?

The exterior is no longer the only point of interest when it comes to new cars – vehicle manufacturers are eager to transform and increasingly focus on marketing the interior of the car. We have seen a fashion for replacing leather, an organic material, with oilbased plastics and synthetics, somehow conflating ‘vegan’ with ‘sustainable’, which when the stated objective is sustainability, is a misrepresentation of science.

Man-made materials in vehicles aren’t necessarily a new phenomenon. They have been around for a long time – and can make sense for certain parts of the car where leather might not be the first choice. Most leather alternatives though, are made of plastic-based polyurethane chloride (PVC) and polyurethane, both pose serious environmental threats given that they are usually manufactured from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable.

Demanding transparency from car manufacturers

Labelling of synthetic alternative material for the interior of cars often incorporates the term ‘leather’ in an attempt to associate with the positive benefits of leather but without being transparent about the true origin of the synthetic material used.

However, the term leather is strictly defined by British, European and International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards and refers to only material originating from the skins or hides of animals. As Dr Kerry Senior, director at the UK’s leather trade federation, Leather UK pointed out in an article published in the The Independent (15.08.19), “There is no such thing as vegan leather.”

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