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Volvo's new EVs will be leather-free

Just don't call them vegan, at least not yet.

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Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
2 min read
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Volvo's C40 Recharge will be the company's first EV to go with a leather-free cabin. 

Volvo

Volvo's electric cars are going leather free. If you want to ditch internal combustion and plan to buy one of the Swedish automaker's forthcoming EVs, you'll have to go without animal hides coddling your backsides. The first of these new all-electric models to go with a vegetarian-oriented cabin is the just-revealed 2022 C40 Recharge crossover coupe SUV, a model that will be sold exclusively online.

Volvo has long been one of the most vocal automakers about environmental sustainability, and on Tuesday, the brand confirmed plans to become fully carbon neutral -- including the company's supply chain -- by 2040. That target brings with it a wholesale analysis of the company's processes and offerings, and that includes the availability of leather in its electric automobiles. 

Leather production presents its own sustainability issues, including related deforestation and greenhouse-gas-emissions issues. A Volvo spokesperson tells Roadshow, "We intend to reduce leather content in our cars and this will be a gradual transition. We are conscious that consumers increasingly want leather-free materials, due to concerns over animal welfare. We acknowledge these concerns, even though all of Volvo Cars' current leather supply is responsibly sourced and all raw hides supplied to Volvo Cars are byproducts from the beef industry."

Volvo C40 Recharge seat
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Volvo C40 Recharge seat

Look, ma! No cows!

Volvo

At present, these leather-free electric Volvos dont qualify as vegan -- auto production routinely involves adhesives and other products with animal-product-derived formulas. According to Volvo, "Instead of leather, we will use several different material alternatives, including sustainable vinyls and textiles. Volvo Cars has the ambition that by 2025, 25% of the material within our cars (by weight) will be recycled and bio-based."

It's not immediately clear what impact the company's EVs going leather-free will have on Volvo's existing XC40 Recharge EV, let alone the automaker's range of gas- and hybrid-powered cars and SUVs. The XC40 Recharge, Volvo's first production EV, comes standard with a Nappa leather and Nubuck upholstery. Other models in the Volvo family offer leatherette seating surfaces, as well a novel City Weave plaid textile and a sustainable wool option. According to the spokesperson, "this [leather-free plan] will be across the board, but we haven't shared plans beyond that."

Volvo's C40 Recharge is a slick crossover EV with a coupe-y roofline

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