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The singer-songwriter calls on automaker to use more ‘vegan leather’ in its Chevy Volt and Bolt vehicles

Stephen Moore

November 24, 2016

2 Min Read
Ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey pens letter to GM; calls for use of more polyurethane in car interiors

British singer-songwriter Morrissey might have inadvertently made a plug for more use of plastics in cars when he called on GM to offer ‘vegan leather’ instead of cowhide interiors for its 'eco-friendly' Chevrolet Volt and Bolt models before a concert planned for Detroit on Wednesday this week that was subsequently postponed on account of the ill health of his keyboard player. A copy of his letter to the automaker, originally reported in the Detroit Metro Times, follows at the end of this article.

Morrissey calls on car makers to eschew leather in favor of ‘vegan leather’

So what exactly is vegan leather one may ask? The term was new to me at least. Turns out that vegan leather is pretty much anything not made from cow or other animal hides. According to animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA, Norfolk, VA), most vegan leather is made of polyurethane (PU), “a polymer that can be made to order for any designer’s whim.” Adds PETA, “It can sparkle, have a nice glossy sheen, or be saturated in all kinds of shades that put leather to shame.”

Other faux leathers includes the workhorse resin polyvinyl chloride (PVC),which is also used in the famous classic patterns of $2000 Louis Vuitton designer bags, and microfiber-based textiles that may incorporate combinations of polyester (PET), polyamide (PA) and polypropylene (PP).

In his letter, Moz cited a recent PETA investigation of the brutal conditions at Brazilian cattle ranches that supply leather to GM, Toyota and Volkswagen. It makes for gruesome viewing.

“Given that the Volt and Bolt are being marketed to eco-conscious buyers, entirely vegan options would only broaden their appeal,” wrote Morrissey. I’m not sure how they’d react if these ‘eco-conscious’ buyers knew their car interiors ended up covered in PVC. Perhaps they would feel it was the worst of two evils.

Mary T Barra

Chair and CEO

General Motors Company

21 November 2016

Dear Ms Barra,

As I head to Detroit to play the Royal Oak Music Theatre, I’m writing to ask GM to make Chevy’s Volt and Bolt more eco-friendly by giving buyers the option to choose vegan leather interiors–including steering wheels and gear shifts. GM is named in PETA’s brand-new investigation of cattle ranches, on which animals are branded on the face, electro-shocked, and beaten before they’re slaughtered and used to make leather interiors for car companies, including yours.

More and more people are opting for vegan leather for the sake of both cows and the environment. A staggering 51 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Animal skins also have to be treated with a toxic soup of chemicals in order to keep them from decomposing, and runoff from leather tanneries poisons vital waterways.

Given that the Volt and Bolt are being marketed to eco-conscious buyers, entirely vegan options would only broaden their appeal. I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,


About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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