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.

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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

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.

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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

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.

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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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