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Sustainability in the automotive industry has many different faces – from zero local emissions vehicles to CO2-free production to recycled materials and much, much more. After offering its customers a number of electric vehicles and slowly moving towards production with renewable energy, BMW Group is now ready to take the next step and launch completely vegan interiors.

This will happen starting next year when certain models and trim levels from BMW and Mini will be offered with fully vegan interiors where traditional leather is replaced by new materials with a leather-like surface, appearance, and resistance. The automaker predicts a huge increase in demand for leather-free interiors in the coming future, especially in markets such as the United States, Europe, and China. With this move, BMW Group wants to get ahead of the curve.

Gallery: BMW and Mini vegan interiors

With the introduction of leather-like material for the steering wheels, for example, BMW and Mini will reduce the proportion of components that contain traces of raw materials of animal origin to less than one percent. Such materials will only be used in areas of the interior that are not visible to the customer for protective coatings and different additives to paints. Even more impressively, the new steering wheel surface reduces CO2e emissions along the value chain by around 85 percent compared to the leather surface of a steering wheel.

Other solutions to lower the CO2 mix in future products include floor mats made from the so-called mono-material, which avoids mixes that are more difficult to recycle. BMW Group estimates that as a result of this measure, it saves about 23,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, plus about 1,600 tonnes of waste. It will be very interesting to see whether Rolls-Royce will soon join BMW and Mini in offering vegan interiors. We know the company has the materials and technology but the demand from customers is not existing yet.

“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,” Uwe Köhler, Head of Development Body, Exterior Trim, Interior at the BMW Group. “The innovative material withstands wear and tear caused by abrasion, perspiration, and moisture and has all the desirable properties of leather.”

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