The BMW Group plans to launch its first vehicles featuring completely vegan interiors in 2023.
The German car maker says it is responding to the demand for vegan and leather-free interiors, which is set to increase further, especially in the US, China, and Europe.
Reducing CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle of a vehicle is the central goal of the BMW Group on the road to climate neutrality, and material selection has a key role to play.
The company says that replacing raw materials of animal origin will make a significant contribution to increasing sustainability in vehicle production.
The introduction of a new surface material for steering wheels for example will see the proportion of vehicle components that contain traces of raw materials of animal origin fall to less than one percent in BMW and MINI vehicles.
As a result, these materials will now only be found in areas that are not visible to the customer, for example in various waxy substances such as gelatine used in protective coatings, lanolin in paints, tallow as an additive in elastomers and beeswax as a flux for paints.
“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. The innovative material withstands wear and tear caused by abrasion, perspiration, and moisture and has all the desirable properties of leather,” said Uwe Kohler, head of development body, exterior trim, interior at the BMW Group.
The only distinguishing feature of the new material will be a new grain effect on the steering wheel rim, and BMW Group says that leather-free surfaces can reduce CO2 emissions by 85 percent.