Guide to vegan cars: top 10 vegan-friendly cars for 2022

Guide to vegan cars: top 10 vegan-friendly cars for 2022

18 January 2022 | Kate Kozlowska | 12 min read

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been working for years to make vegan cars a reality, urging and convincing big-name manufacturers, such as Ford, Honda, Mercedes, Tesla and Volkswagen, to remove leather from their seats and steering wheels.

It is undeniable that veganism is gaining in popularity, and carmakers had to take notice. In this blog, we'll find out how far the motor industry has come when it comes to vegan vehicles and share some tips on choosing a vegan-friendly car.

Vegan-friendly cars

When considering going vegan, you might want to consider more than just the food you eat - the car you drive may also need to fit within the lifestyle. While there are a few vegan-friendly cars on the market, it may not be common for cars to be marketed as such. However, vehicle manufacturers are increasingly producing cars that are certified vegan, now that more and more people adopt veganism.

Leather upholstery is a prominently non-vegan feature of many cars, particularly those with a more upmarket reputation. Luxurious cars are known for their leather seats, steering wheels, and centre consoles. Range Rover uses leather throughout its opulent interior, demonstrating this concept perfectly.

The best way to find a vegan-friendly car interior is to consider low-spec models. The entry-level trim level is less likely to feature materials such as leather, more likely to use cloth and plastic. That doesn't mean high-end options aren't worthwhile. Vegans still have access to various options that offer a good driving experience and high quality.

Do vegan cars exist?

The answer is no. Currently, there are no all-vegan cars - not even the cars on this list, and the problem extends beyond leather. Many dashboard displays contain liquid crystals that are often made out of cholesterol derived from animals. Tallow (mutton fat) is often used to vulcanise and toughen rubber and plastic used to make tyres, and even animal fat is sometimes used to lubricate steel used to build car frames.

A spokesperson for the Vegan Society, Dominika Piasecka, says that no car comes close to being completely vegan-friendly, but that isn't the point. "The bottom line is that there’s no such thing as a 100% vegan car, unfortunately," says Piasecka. "The key with veganism is trying to do your best. It’s not possible to be 100% vegan in this imperfect world but we can avoid animal suffering as much as possible. Avoiding leather is a practical thing we can do when buying a car, while we can’t of course avoid tyres or steel."

When buying or leasing a new car, it's easy to specify a non-leather interior, but not always when buying used, since not everything is labelled. Pay attention to the names of artificial vegan leathers used by car manufacturers, such as Artico by Mercedes and Sensatec by BMW. Alcantara is another option. It is a type of man-made suede that is considered vegan.

The number of vegan-friendly car manufacturers is likely to be limited if you're looking for one. Although entry-level trims are typically devoid of leather, even cheaper cars such as the Ford Fiesta have leather seats on higher trims.

The best vegan-friendly cars you can lease in 2022

 A fully vegan car is not possible as the Vegan Society mentioned above. This list includes some of the most vegan-friendly models available today.

1. Polestar 2

The Polestar 2 aims to bring electric motoring and cruelty-free interiors to a wider audience. Polestar electric car is basically an electric Volvo and goes head-to-head with Tesla Model 3 with its 275-mile range.

Polestar has even received a Compassionate Business Award from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for its vegan-friendly interior. Polestar's manufacturer believes that its interior will accelerate the transition of the auto industry toward leather-free interiors. Among the Polestar's vegan interior components are the seat covers, steering wheel, gear shift, and interior coatings.

2. Renault Twizy

The Renault Twizy is one of the most fun vehicles to drive around a city, and it also has one of the most unique looks. With zero emissions from its battery, the vehicle is small enough to park facing the kerb like the Smart ForTwo in congested areas.

The vehicle may only have two seats (one in front of the other), but it is one of the most vegan-friendly models available, as it has no leather seats and is 85% recyclable.

3. Ford Fiesta

Over the years, the Ford Fiesta has been one of the most popular cars in the UK and Europe. With a huge range of engine and interior options, it is an extremely popular car for a number of reasons, including its value for money, performance, and comfort.

The latest model also comes with a range of non-leather seat options. However, you'll need to choose a Fiesta Style, Zetec, or B&O Play Zetec model to avoid leather seats completely. Except for the entry-level Style model, all Fiesta cars come standard with leather steering wheels, but these can be changed for non-leather ones upon request.

4. Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf is comfortable, well made, and very practical. It's a solid car - economical and reliable, plus it has many engine options. Golf holds its value well, making car finance affordable.

The most vegan-friendly Golf is the previous-generation model. The latest Golf comes with a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear stick, even at the entry-level Life trim level. The higher-spec models come with more technology and media equipment, but also leather steering wheels and gear knobs.

5. Mercedes A-Class

Mercedes' latest A-Class may be the cheapest in its line-up, but it still comes with a host of useful technology. It features gadgets comparable to the firm's high-end luxury cars, provided you choose an optional kit such as an augmented reality sat-nav that displays directions over images of the road. All Mercedes A-Class models are fitted with voice recognition software, letting you set the sat-nav directions by giving voice commands.

You can choose between fabric seats or Artico, Mercedes' artificial leather. The steering wheel has a real leather covering, but real leather seats are optional.
While it is impossible to find a completely leather-free A-Class, Mercedes did at least make an effort.

6. Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius began the trend of hybrid cars, ushering in an age of eco-friendly taxi drivers. Although it doesn't offer the most sporting drive, it is remarkably reliable.

Prius base models have cloth seats, but even the pricier cars forgo leather in favour of cloth. However, top-of-the-line Prius Excel models come only with leather seats, and all new models include leather steering wheels.

7. Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular electric cars in Europe and one of the more affordable electric family cars available. With the largest battery, it offers a range of more than 200 miles. Besides being quiet and comfortable, it's also surprisingly fast due to its electric motor.

Leafs can be ordered without leather seats, steering wheels, or gearshifts (the gearshift is a plastic switch), which appeals to vegans. Nissan Leaf Tekna top-end models do come with leather as standard, however.

8. BMW i3

The BMW i3, an electric car, features some of the most eco-friendly materials on the market. BMW claims the car is 95% recyclable as is largely made from carbon fibre, rather than steel.

The wood used on the dashboard comes from trees grown during the monsoon season which, if not cut, would take up space for plants to grow. In addition to cloth upholstery, BMW offers artificial leather called Sensatec. Although the i3 is one of the most environmentally friendly and animal-friendly cars around, it does not yet come with a non-leather steering wheel.

Considering the 120Ah version of the BMW i3 has a range of around 150 miles between charges, it's a realistic option for many drivers. A range-extender (ReX) version of this car is also available, with a small petrol engine that provides recharging on the go, although BMW stopped making this a few years ago.

9. Range Rover Velar

Land Rover Range Rover Velar is one of the most stylish cars on the list. It's larger than the Range Rover Evoque, but not as big as the Range Rover Sport.

The Velar is a perfect example of how carmakers are changing their ways when it comes to leather. Range Rover's Premium Textile fabric means non-leather interiors can also be found in high-end models. Whether it appeals to you will depend on your feelings towards wool, as the fabric is a blend of wool and polyester. Wool and artificial suede seats, artificial leather on the dashboard, and an artificial suede steering wheel are all included in the Premium Textile Pack, which makes the car vegan-friendly.

10. Tesla Model S

Tesla's electric cars boast an impressive range (over 400 miles) and are among the fastest cars sold (0-62mph in two seconds). This makes them some of the most engaging electric cars to drive. If the car's vegan credentials are most important to you, then the Tesla Model S could be the right car for you.

Tesla no longer sells new cars with leather seats - a big victory for PETA and an excellent development for vegans. All Teslas now come with synthetic leather, although leather steering wheels remain standard. The company does, however, offer a non-leather steering wheel if requested so please let us know in advance if you want to lease a Tesla car with CVC.


Hopefully, you found these tips on choosing a vegan-friendly car useful. The list of the best vegan-friendly cars includes some with great leasing deals direct from CVC, which should help you choose your next car. Just click below to get started!

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