Earlier this week, the Range Rover Velar, a luxury SUV that has the option for a leather-free interior, was declared the winner of the 2018 World Car Design of the Year.
The win comes from The World Car Awards, a program created and organized by automobile journalists from across the globe that decides the best cars of the year across a variety of categories.
According to Business Insider, “The World Car Design of the Year category, and the corresponding award, are meant to highlight new vehicles with innovation and style that push established boundaries.” The winner was decided by a panel consisting of seven “highly respected world design experts.”
“The Range Rover Velar is an outstanding, superior SUV,” Professor Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover CEO, said. “Compelling modernity, eye-catching design, innovative Touch Pro Duo infotainment technology and a clear focus on sustainability – what a combination. This product speaks for itself.”
While the standard Velar has a leather interior, the company also worked with luxury textile company Kvdrat in order to develop a leather alternative called Suedecloth. Suedecloth is made from recycled plastic bottles that have been transformed into a textured, non-woven material that is soft to the touch.
When asked about the decision to offer a leather-free interior, Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern told Drive, “The attitude towards animal by-products is changing.” He continued, “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.”
McGovern concluded his thoughts, stating that “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.”
Although Land Rover has taken a positive step for the environment by utilizing recycled single-use plastic water bottles, the leather-free interior cannot be considered vegan, as it includes a wool blend. While many are aware of the cruelties of the leather and fur industries, fewer realize that wool is not kind to animals — an estimated one million sheep die each year as a result of cold exposure from being sheared too early.
Other perils faced by sheep in the wool industry include mulesing, a painful process where the farmer cuts skin from the animal’s back and tail without the use of anesthetic, in order to prevent flies from laying eggs in the skin folds. In addition to that, sheep who no longer produce as much wool are no longer considered profitable by farmers and are typically sold for slaughter.
Image Credit: Range Rover