Veganism may have started as a subculture for those who wanted to fight for animal rights and environmental awareness, but in recent years it has grown to become a consumer trend. When you look around you can see restaurants, grocery stores, clothing shops, cosmetic brands, and more touting vegan products and principles. The next sector diving into veganism is none other than the automobile industry.
At the New York International Auto Show, Land Rover revealed its new line of vegan materials to be used in several of its iconic vehicles. According to the brand’s creative director Massimo Frascella, the prevalence of sustainable design in furniture for homes and hotels has opened the door for the same in vehicles. As a practicing vegan himself, Frascella views sustainability in the average car as the best foundation for more widespread change.
“There are a growing number of people who are concerned with the provenance of the textiles and materials in their vehicle,” Frascella says.
In place of the formerly popular leather, Land Rover will be using Eucalyptus Melange. This textile consists of eucalyptus fibers, which require much less water in production than traditional materials like plastic. This plant-based textile also dyes well to match practically any color on the spectrum.
To provide comfort and luxury, the brand is also offering a durable wool blend that feels like a soft sweater from the textile company Kvadrat. Although not completely vegan, it provides an equally eco-conscious vegetarian option. This textile is combined with Dinamica Suedecloth, a flammable suede-mimicking microfiber. As like other synthetic suede textiles that resist stains and water damage, Dinamica provides the durability car-buyers look for as well.
Land Rover is planning to use these materials to outfit its 2020 Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar, and Jaguar I-Pace SUVs. The Evoque has already proven to be a popular choice for the luxury brand. While the average roadster or racing car typically weighs up to 3,400 pounds, the weight isn’t the selling point of the Evoque. It’s the vehicle’s status as an upscale and aspirational addition to anyone’s garage and Land Rover expects that the eco-friendly interiors will only increase those elements.
Land Rover isn’t the only car brand expecting to see profits from putting vegan cars on the market. With a longstanding reputation for producing hybrid cars, Toyota has outfitted its popular Prius model with vegan materials. Toyota uses a material known as SofTex, which is a synthetic fabric that mimics leather. This animal-free alternative also boasts more breathability.
Ford has already employed similar methods for veganism as Land Rover in using a plant-based material. The big-name brand has developed seat foam from soybeans to combat the use of animal byproducts. Hyundai has even utilized ground-up volcanic rock to construct the support pillar coverings for its sedans.
As these eco-friendly materials set these vehicles apart from their standard counterparts, their collective value is sure to increase. And with more than 2,000 instances of equipment theft in Texas alone in 2016, the need to secure these vehicles will be greater than ever. That risk, however, isn’t likely to slow down the trend. According to business consulting firm Grand View Research, just synthetic leather is estimated to be a $45 billion industry by 2025. Other synthetic and plant-based textiles are sure to see similar growths.
Although the $3.4 billion Americans spent to replace their smartphones makes it apparent that the average consumer will pay up to have their modern amenities, they won’t have to cough up more than usual to get the vegan Land Rovers. Frascella says that the materials in the Land Rover won’t carry an additional price premium. The only premium the people will face when they purchase one of these upscale vehicles is the additional joy of knowing that they’ve made an environmentally-friendly choice.