The world of automobiles is currently undergoing its biggest period of change since they were first introduced over a century ago. From that moment they have transformed the way we live, but now the way we live is changing, and the automobile is being forced to adapt. It is appropriate that the industry should rethink all aspects of its production at such a moment, but it is vital that it uses common sense and properly thought out science in doing so.
Oil based plastics are no substitute for leather
One of the gravest errors that seems to be surfacing with electric vehicles and some hybrid types is the tendency to replace leather, an organic material, with oil- based plastics and synthetics, somehow conflating ‘vegan’ with ‘sustainable’. It is a misrepresentation of science and not only illogical but perverse when the stated objective is improved sustainability.
Properly made leather is one of the most sustainable materials the car companies could use. No one keeps or kills cattle to make leather, it is a by-product from the meat and dairy industry. Hides and skins are a renewable resource - perhaps one of the world’s oldest recycled materials. Modern leather factories, such as those making automotive leathers, produce an engineered product made with integrity, technology and craftsmanship. The plants are bright and modern, not unlike the most modern car facilities and they skilfully merge technology, craftsmanship and product design to engineer a long-lasting renewable product from a natural material.
It is a material that has become increasingly popular as an interior design resource in modern cities as well as a covering for smartphones and tablets precisely because as an organic, natural material it humanises an environment loaded with metal, glass and technology.
Buy less, buy better
All the evidence so far suggests that cars will be expected to work harder and last longer. Leather as a tactile, long lasting low maintenance material fits perfectly as a sustainable contemporary fabric which is totally relevant for the demands of this fast evolving world.