In an interview with Autocar UK, Oliver Heilmer, who is the head of MINI Design, said that the company will not offer real leather upholstery for the interior of its future models. The move is part of the carmaker’s efforts to promote sustainability as it moves on to its next generation of vehicles, echoing similar initiatives by other brands like Polestar.

“We don’t need leather any more in the future, because we don’t believe it’s sustainable. We’re totally convinced that we will have modern and high-value products without leather, said Heilmer, who added that the company has already begun developing eco-friendly interiors.

“The fabric in the production seats is now 100% recycled. The lining underneath is 70% recycled. We’re looking to create a timeless design. A one-season design, like fashion, isn’t our aim with the design of future MINIs,” explained Heilmer.

“It’s inventive simplicity. Materials will be recycled, but they’re luxurious at the same time. And inventive in terms of function. For instance, we used cork in the Urbanaut [concept]. The aesthetics will be coming more from a home perspective, rather than an automotive one,” he added.

Despite the push for sustainability, MINI will not lose sight of its heritage to ensure the brand’s quirks and fun factor remain hallmarks of its models. “We ask questions like ‘is there still a toggle switch in the future?’ because you love to use it. We need to do the basics right but then add the magical MINI touch over that,” Heilmer said.

Performance models will also be an important part of the company’s future, with the John Cooper Works range set to remain in the line-up. “I personally believe that there will still be an emotional connection that we have to keep for our hardcore fans in order to have those John Cooper Works pinnacle products that are purely for driving pleasure,” noted Heilmer.