BMW and MINI are getting fully vegan leather interiors next year

Read Time:   |  14th September 2022

Luxury car brand BMW is working with several startups to launch vegan leather interiors in 2023 that will redefine "luxury".

BMW Group has announced it is working on creating a vegan leather interior for release in 2023 after witnessing growing demand.

The luxury car brand is working is working with start-ups to “develop high-quality leather alternatives” which reduce the CO2 footprint of surfaces by 85 percent due to the environmental impact of animal leather.

According to BMW, most of the emissions produced from leather come from methane gas from cattle rearing. The remaining 20% comes from processing the cowhide, which is both energy- and water-intensive.

Switching to vegan leather interiors will help BMW meet its central goal of climate neutrality as it aims to cut its overall carbon emissions and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

It hopes to launch its first cars with completely vegan interiors as early as next year. Specific details have yet to be announced.

‘Innovative materials’

In an online statement, BMW’s Annette Baumeister said: “We are testing how these innovative materials can be combined and how they can be best used.

“In the process, we are creating unique seats with a whole new aesthetic that also prompts discussion.”

Baumeister also stressed the important of redefining “luxury”, adding: “Sustainable design does not necessarily have to restrict aesthetics. We focus on value, quality and modernity”.

The innovative new vegan leather material is durable, luxurious and animal-friendly. Image credit: BMW

The innovative new vegan leather material is durable, luxurious and animal-friendly. Image credit: BMW

BMW ventures into vegan leather

As part of its sustainability drive, BMW has been working on innovative solutions to replace leather with vegan alternatives.

In 2020, the company announced that the interiors for all future MINI cars would be leather-free.

Speaking with Autocar at that time, Mini’s Head of Design, Oliver Heilmer, said: “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.”

BMW has also been moving towards vegan leather for a while, and the interiors for its 5-Series cars are now made from an animal-free leather alternative.

One of the brand’s partnership includes Mexican company Adriano di Marti, which produces cruelty-free leather made from cacti.

“We are convinced that our cactus-based vegan biomaterials contribute significantly to the automotive industry’s sustainability efforts by replacing traditional cowhide with renewable, vegan alternatives,” say founders Marte Cázarez and Adrián López Velarde.

BMW is also working with an innovative product named Mirum – a 100 percent bio-based material that is completely recyclable and “has the potential to mimic all the traditional properties of leather”.

Kasper Sage of MBQ i Ventures notes: “Having a premium-quality, scalable, low-cost alternative to leather is key to the further decarbonisation of the automotive industry”.

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Featured image: Stephan Louis via Unsplash

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