BMW has now joined other car manufacturers in ditching animal leather from some of its cars. The BMW Group will launch vehicles with fully vegan interiors in 2023 for the first time. Cactus and fully bio-based biodegradable materials have passed rigorous testing procedures for seats, as well as for steering wheels and gear stick gaiters. In a press statement, BMW said that the move will serve “the demand for vegan and leather-free interiors, which is set to increase further in the near future, especially in the US, China, and Europe.”

BMW claims that the new vegan materials, manufactured mostly by the start-up MIRUM,  will reduce CO2 emissions in the vehicle value chain by around 85% because of the lack of methane being produced when making animal leather alternatives. MIRUM uses a bio-based material made from coconut husk fibre, and Deserttex, a cactus fibre-polyurethane mix.

Uwe Köhler, Head of Development Body, Exterior Trim, Interior at the BMW Group, said, “With a steering wheel made from a high-quality vegan surface material, we are fulfilling the wishes of our customers who do not want to make any compromises in terms of look, feel and functionality… the innovative material withstands wear and tear caused by abrasion, perspiration, and moisture and has all the desirable properties of leather.”  Infinium Global Research predicts that the vegan leather sector will be worth $89.6 billion by 2025. In 2019 Volkswagen announced that it would launch an electric car with a vegan apple leather interior. Other manufacturers have also ditched leather for some of their car models, such as Citroen, Dacia, Honda, Ford, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Smart, Telsa, Polestar, Toyota, Vauxhall, and Volvo. It is a matter of time before they all will do that, but what the planet and its inhabitants need is that all the cars of all the models have vegan interiors, not just a few.   

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.