Volvo sees sustainability in motoring as more than the energy sources used for the propulsion of its vehicles; this has extended to looking after animal welfare, as well, specifically to no longer use leather trim in its cars, which will also be going fully electric.

The Swedish brand is working to source high-quality, sustainable sources for many materials currently used in the car industry, and it is aiming to have 25% of material in its new cars to be from recycled and bio-based content in its aim to become a fully circular business by 2040, it said. To that end, Volvo is also aiming for its immediate suppliers, including for materials, to use 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Among the efforts towards that overall goal is the creation of Nordico, a synthetic material created from recycled material comprised of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, bio-attributed material from sustainable forests in Sweden and Finland, along with corks from wine bottling. Currently available leather-free trim options at Volvo include tailored wool blend upholstery that features in the 2022 XC60.

Volvo’s move towards leather-free material for its cars’ interiors is driven by concern for the impact of cattle farming upon the environment, which includes deforestation; around 14% of greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be from livestock, most of which emerging from cattle farming, says Volvo.

“Being progressive car maker means we need to address all areas of sustainability, not just CO2 emissions. Responsible sourcing is an important part of that work, including respect for animal welfare. Going leather-free inside our pure electric cars is a good next step towards addressing this issue,” said Volvo Cars director of global sustainability Stuart Templar.

It doesn’t stop there. Volvo is also looking to reduce the use of residual products from livestock production, or in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, lubricants and adhesives, either as a part of the material or as a process chemical in the materials’ production or treatment.

The automaker believes that while going leather-free is a step in the right direction, that alone does not make a vegan car interior; it aims to take a strong, ethical position to help stop harm towards animals by contributing towards a reduced demand for materials containing animal products.

“Finding products and materials that support animal welfare will be challenging, but that is no reason to avoid this important issue. This is a journey worth taking. Having a truly progressive and sustainable mindset means we need to ask ourselves difficult questions and actively try and find answers,” Templar said.