Animal activists rejoice: the interior of the Tesla Model 3 is now 100 percent leather-free.
On Saturday, Tesla announced that the Model 3 is now totally free of leather, including the steering wheel. The company has also vowed that its forthcoming Model Y will also be fully vegan when it debuts in 2020.
Animal rights groups have been urging the automaker to rid its cars of animal-derived material for years. PETA representatives brought up the issue at the company’s most recent shareholder meeting, prompting Tesla CEO Elon Musk to promise to comply. But making a leather-free steering wheel seemed to be a sticking point — until now.
“I believe we were close to having a non-heated steering wheel, that’s not leather,” Musk said at the shareholder meeting, according to TechCrunch (which reported this first). “There are some challenges when [you] heat the non-leather material and also how well it wears over time.”
PETA has been working with Tesla for years on producing a synthetic leather. It also has led campaigns to urge global automakers like General Motors, Volkswagen, and Toyota to ditch animal products in their cars as well. “By ditching leather, including in its car seats, Tesla is sparing countless cows the cruelty inherent in the leather industry and staying true to its focus on sustainability,” PETA said last June.
This isn’t Tesla’s first “fully vegan” car. The company has always offered cloth interiors for customers who don’t want to use leather, and PETA has clarified that it’s specifically interested in the more premium option of fake leather.