Within the world of luxury cars, leather upholstery still signifies the ultimate decadence. But following the footprint of economical cars like the Honda Civic and the Nissan Sentra, top luxury automakers are also taking responsible measures by optioning leather upholstery, or in some cases, completely altering the interiors with animal-free alternatives.
The automaker companies have been offering synthetic leather for years as an inexpensive substitute to the real material but now they’ve gone one step further, offering it as the sustainable choice. In 2017, prodded by PETA (People for Ethnic Treatments of Animals), Tesla ditched the leather upholstery in their cars, with other EV makers following suit. While the GMC Hummer EV SUV and pickup are coming with synthetic skin interiors, the new Rivian R1T has launched the model with exclusive ‘vegan leather’ upholstery. The C40 Recharge of Volvo is already leather-free, and according to the company, by 2030, the entire electric line-up of Volvo will be leather-less as well.
So, what is this synthetic leather? Most vegan or animal-free automotive textiles are made of plastics. Traditionally, vinyl or polyvinyl chloride, which is made from petroleum oil, has been the popular alternative for leather. The latest versions of faux leathers claim a sort of eco-friendly prospect, by being made from different sorts of natural materials, like pineapple plant leaves, apple peels, mushroom roots, etc. Still, these alternative leathers are yet to appear in production car interiors.
The Mazda Version
According to Mazda, their MX-30 EV features Premium Vintage Leatherette, made with minimal organic solvents. Lexus claims in their reports that the latest NuLuxe model uses no animal-sourced compounds in its interiors, producing 65% fewer carbon emissions than real leather. Recently, the senior design manager for the material and color of Volvo, Rekha Meena, also stated that the brand’s signature ‘Microtech’ vinyl is crafted without any harmful plasticizer.
According to Jay Leno, This 1921 Benz Mercedes Took a Whole Decade to Restore
If you’re familiar with Jay Leno, you’ll know that he’s not only a great talk show host but that he’s also the ultimate car enthusiast. He’s got a whole garage full of epic cars — from modern creations to vintage artifacts — and it seems as though he just can’t get enough of them. In fact, when he has some spare time on his hands, he loves nothing more than buying an old, decrepit car and restoring it to its former beauty. That’s exactly what he did with his 1921 Benz Mercedes.
A Tough Project
As someone who loves nothing more than sinking their teeth into a car project, there’s no doubt about the fact that Jay Leno has worked on some serious sticklers over the years. However, it seems as though his latest renovation is one of his proudest to date – and that’s largely due to the fact that it has taken him a whole decade to get it perfect. So, what’s the car? Well, this is an awesome 1921 aero-engined Benz Mercedes.
Running Into Problems
What’s so amazing about this car is the fact that the engine once powered a fighter plane, and the whole car itself was originally made out of old household parts. While this is what attracted Leno to the project, these elements are also what have caused the most problems. Over the past decade he has had to completely rework some of the main components, and he ran into a serious problem when he learned that the steel water jackets had almost completely corroded away. He had to remake all of the jackets from scratch using brass and silver brazing to fix this problem.
Now, Jay’s car looks pretty impressive, and it seems as though he is happy with the end result. After all, this project has been a real labor of love over the past decade.