Tesla Model X Now Offers Synthetic Leather, For Vegan Appeal

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

Enlarge Photo

Tesla's electric cars have won a loyal following from customers, thanks to their zero-emission powertrains, performance, and copious technology.

But there's a subset of Tesla customers who weren't completely satisfied with the company's offerings.

Vegan buyers have taken issue with Tesla's use of leather for interior trim.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Model X Spreads Its (Falcon) Wings: Production Details Revealed (Sep 2015)

And now vegans seem to have put enough pressure on the company to force it to do something about that, reports The New York Times (subscription required).

Synthetic leather--in a color called "Ultra White"--is now available as an option on the Model X electric crossover.

Tesla previously offered cloth seating surfaces and a synthetic-leather steering wheel as alternatives to animal hides on the Model S, but this is the first time it has offered a complete faux-leather interior.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

Enlarge Photo

The move comes after repeated calls from customers for interiors that minimize the use of animal products.

Among those voices is Leilani Münter, a vegan and professional race-car driver who has been a staunch advocate of the Model S since first test driving one in 2013.

ALSO SEE: NASCAR's Leilani Münter Gets Tesla Model S, Goes Activist (May 2013)

Her motto is "Never underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car."

Backing that up, she initially contacted Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who helped her get a Model S with cloth seats--which led to the option becoming available on all versions of the sedan.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

Enlarge Photo

Tesla has also had talks with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Representatives of the group first appeared at a company shareholder meeting last June, urging Tesla to stop using real leather.

Zero-emission powertrains obviously give electric cars significant environmental credibility, but Tesla isn't the only example of an attempt to extend that credibility to interior materials.

MORE: 2016 Tesla Model X Priced From $81,200; All Versions Can Be Ordered Now (Nov 2015)

In recent years, carmakers including BMW, Ferrari, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz have experiment with faux-leather seating options.

BMW has also emphasized sustainability in the design of the i3 electric car's interior.

The i3--which comes standard with cloth seats and offers leather as an option--has wood trim harvested in an environmentally-conscious way, and uses a renewable plant-based kenaf material for much of its interior.


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