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Land Rover says leather and plastic are passe

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Luxury car makers are increasingly shunning leather and plastic as the car industry looks to improve its environmental credentials.

Land Rover interior design manager Martin Buffery says the brand is working on new leather alternatives to reflect community values.

“We’ll get ourselves to the point where we’ve got a good, solid vegan or non-leather offering for premium vehicles, we’ve got that in development right now.”

But he believes some buyers will always demand leather, with no plans to drop the animal-sourced material altogether in future.

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media_cameraLand Rover says buyers are demanding leather alternatives for car interiors. Picture: Supplied.

Tesla is taking things a step further. Elon Musk recently tweeted the brand would soon be leather-free.

The just-released Model 3 uses no leather, with Tesla referring to the leather-look substance simply as “premium seat material”.

Land Rover is also on a mission to reduce the use of plastics.

Buffery says he is “on a personal mission to eradicate plastic”, in part because of concerns raised by his eight-year old daughter but also because it looks cheap.

“We’re on a mission to get rid of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) … PVC is a truly evil material, it’s very environmentally unfriendly to produce,” says Buffery. “That takes a bit of doing because it’s annoyingly very cheap.”

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media_cameraLand Rover’s interior design boss says plastic is “annoyingly cheap”. Picture: Supplied.

He says it’s unlikely all plastics can be eradicated in vehicle manufacturing, in part because of its relatively light weight.

“Plastic is such a fantastically useful material that it’s very, very difficult to eradicate it completely. What we can do is eradicate single-use plastics or virgin material,” he says.

He says where possible Land Rover will use polyurethane because it is more environmentally friendly.

The change in plastics is being driven by consumer demand and greater awareness of environmental issues.

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media_cameraCar interiors will have to change in line with community expectations. Picture: Supplied.

“There’s a bit of a cultural change happened fairly recently that people have suddenly started to realise how much damage we — the human race — are doing to the planet,” says Buffery.

“Cars have always been a poster child for damage … and so we have to try … really hard to move with the times and show we are responsible and behaving responsibly.”

He attributes his crusade to his eight-year-old daughter’s growing awareness of the environmental damage being done by humans.

“It’s not going to be too long before they’re buying the vehicles that in our long term plan we have in development.”

Originally published as How vegans are shaping car design

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