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Soft, warm and vegan-friendly, Volvo cars go leather-free

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Swedish carmaker Volvo Cars said on Thursday that its vehicle range will go leather-free or ‘vegan-friendly’ by 2030, offering instead bio-based and recycled materials to a customer base that increasingly wants sustainably sourced products.

“We’ve got a new generation of customers coming through, they’re far more interested in the products they buy and having an ethical story behind them,” Robin Page, Volvo’s head of design, told Reuters. “They want to understand where the materials come from.”

Volvo said the shift recognises customer concerns over animal welfare issues in the leather industry and the environmental impacts of cattle farming.

It also coincides with the sustainable aspirations of Volvo’s plan to offer an all-electric car lineup by 2030.

Volvo’s current all-electric C40 Recharge model is already leather-free, and the company is exploring using materials such as Nordico – made from forestry byproducts, recycled corks and plastic bottles – that head of design Page said has the same “softness and warmth” as leather.

“For someone who loves leather but is aware of the negative effects of leather on the environment, this is a good, modern way to capture the properties but is the right material for the future,” Page said.

The carmaker also aims to use recycled polyester to cut its carbon footprint and linen from flax plants grown in Sweden in between crops, which replenishes the soil. Volvo will also use flax fibres for door panels.

“Consumers are not just focused on the sustainability of the end product but also the material that goes into it, including the sourcing” said Stuart Templar, Volvo’s director of global sustainability.

Photo: file photo EPA/Jonas Ekstromer

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