Say what? Jaguar Land Rover, apparently following a recently developing trend, is offering a high tech cloth option instead of leather for the interior of its Velar models. The move is designed to appeal to the sensibilities of the Velar’s younger target demographic, who are perceived as being more sensitive to animal welfare issues. We concur.
After all, with JLR’s goals to double production over the next 10 years, how would the poor cows ever keep up? They would also have to double their own production, reproducing in numbers heretofore unprecedented. Never mind vehicle emissions- think of what all that methane would do to the ozone layer. Al Gore would have a cow. (sorry) Don't forget the deforestation too as more and more grazing pastures get carved out of the Amazon. Maybe on the flip (I can't help myself) side filet mignon will come down in price.
All hyperbole aside, while I’m no PETA activist, I do love animals and I wholly support the efforts to improve their welfare. Without wading into any debates on the matter, I will say that any guilt on my part has been alleviated by the notion that the leather gracing the interiors of my various vehicles over the years has most likely come from the beef industry. I never supposed there are cows getting slaughtered by the thousands just to make Land Rover dashboards while the rest of the poor critters go to waste. It would certainly be heartbreaking if that were so.
Nevertheless, the societal trend has swayed away from leather products, and the automotive industry is following suit. (No pun intended) Tesla, for example, has removed leather upholstery in favor of vegan seating. Bentley is considering doing the same. And now, Jaguar Land Rover is too.
This premium cloth on offer for Velar is a wool blend, combined with faux suede made from recycled plastic bottles. Since there’s no delicious meat generated as a by-product of manufacturing this fabric, it is in fact, more expensive than leather.
Land Rover design director, and cow-sympathizer Gerry McGovern, states, “The attitude towards animal by-products is changing.
That whole world of luxury is becoming more sophisticated and people are looking for ways to reconcile the way we use the world to create these products, things like fabrics that are more sustainable and have a better sustainable footprint.”
“Personally, I’d be quite happy to move away from leather tomorrow. I don’t like that we have to slaughter all those cows to create leather.”
“You wouldn’t believe the anguish the whole idea of having a premium fabric in a car caused, particularly within the marketing group,” McGovern admitted. “We’ve been so ingrained (ingrained? really, Gerry?) within the automotive industry to thinking that when it comes to a premium or luxury product it has to be leather, it has to be real wood….Fabric has always been seen as something as low end. The difference here is that it is a premium fabric that has a comparable price to leather.”
So far, 100 percent of cows interviewed for this story agree with McGovern's position. Or so we herd.
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