In light of the ongoing debate over the ethical treatment of cattle, it is a relevant time to reflect on the use of animal products in cars, and whether their widespread use is a humane practice.
The use of leather in cars has been a mark of prestige for decades, and in recent years it has moved beyond luxury marques and into more basic, inexpensive cars.
Leather is commonly used to upholster seats and other trim inserts, and can also be found wrapped around steering wheels, spread over the dashboard and stitched into the roof lining.
According to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), it takes between one and 15 cow hides to upholster modern cars with leather, and on average two to three cows have to kick the bucket to keep you comfortable in the leather seats of your family car.
If you want to avoid leather completely in a new car, you’ll generally have to steer clear of higher spec models in the range as well as many cars over $50,000. Or you could buy a Mercedes.
In 2005, Mercedes-Benz agreed to offer leather-free versions of all of its cars, giving its customers the choice of cloth or synthetic leather as alternatives.
There is a range of other animal products used in cars, including wool from sheep and lambs in some carpet material, and glues and adhesives, some of which use animal-based proteins.
It is interesting to note just how many other products cow parts can be found in. According to the BBC, it takes five cow guts to string a tennis racket, buttons are made from the tips of cow horns, bone china cups and saucers are 50 percent bone ash, and keratin from cow hooves are used in fire extinguisher foam.
But what do you think? Is it barbaric, unethical and outdated that leather and other animal products are considered a luxury option in cars? Or is it simply part of the business of premium car manufacturing?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.