Harry Leahey

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BMW and MINI models will feature more sustainable vegan interiors from 2023. 

The BMW Group says the change is being made thanks to the development of ‘innovative materials’ which are claimed to retain ‘leather-like’ properties. 

Both brands intend to use its new vegan alternative for the production of their steering wheels, which is said to reduce CO2 emissions along the value chain by around 85 percent compared to leather.

Uwe Köhler, Head of Development Body, Exterior Trim and Interior for the BMW Group, says the switch does not impact quality or durability. 

He said: “With a steering wheel made from a high-quality vegan surface material, we are fulfilling the wishes of our customers who do not want to make any compromises in terms of look, feel and functionality. 

“The innovative material withstands wear and tear caused by abrasion, perspiration and moisture and has all the desirable properties of leather,” 

Up to now, the BMW Group say most of the emissions produced for leather, around 80 percent, were in the form of methane gas from cattle rearing. The remaining 20 percent was accounted for by the processing of cowhide, which is highly energy- and water-intensive.

The floor mats will also be made out of mono-material, since it avoids material mixes that are later difficult to recycle. The BWM Group say this change could save up to 23,000 tonnes of CO2 and 1,600 tonnes of waste every year. 

The change to vegan-based materials is part of the group’s strategy to reduce the CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle of a vehicle, which it wants to achieve by 2050 at the latest. 

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Harry Leahey 03/01/23