These are the best cars for vegans

There’s no such thing as a 100 percent vegan car, but a new list has named the best options. The new Polestar 2 is ranked third

  • Kinder Cars Index

    Kinder Cars Index

    © Polestar

    Earlier this year, a Polestar 2 was delivered to the first European customer in Sweden. The electric car featured an interior finished in vegan-friendly WeaveTech: a water-based, dirt and moisture resistant PVC material inspired by divers’ wetsuits. As it’s free of animal products, it netted Polestar a Compassionate Business Award from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Now, a so-called ‘Kinder Cars Index’ has named the cars that minimise their impact on animals and the environment. Predictably, the top half of the list is dominated by electrified cars.

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  • 20. BMW i8

    20. BMW i8

    © BMW

    The 100 percent vegan car doesn’t exist. Although it’s easy to avoid leather, animal products are used in the production of tyres, the steel frame and even the liquid crystals in the media display. Many manufacturers offer artificial leathers or Alcantara, which is a vegan-friendly man-made suede material. “The leather industry is as toxic to the Earth as it is cruel to cows,” said PETA. The Kinder Cars Index, created by Money.co.uk, places the BMW i8 20th out of 50 cars.

  • 19. Seat Mii Electric

    19. Seat Mii Electric

    © Seat

    The Kinder Car Index takes into account the powertrain, CO2 emissions and the availability of leather-free materials as standard. The Seat Mii Electric is marked down for its leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear stick and handbrake cover. Beyond the top 20, Money.co.uk named the Citroen C1 as the most vegan-friendly car with a petrol engine, while the Dacia Sandero was named as the most affordable petrol car for vegans. In both cases, opt for the basic models to avoid leather.

  • 18. Skoda Citigo-e iV

    18. Skoda Citigo-e iV

    © Skoda

    It’s no longer possible to buy a new Skoda Citigo-e iV electric car, but the new Enyaq iV is waiting in the wings. Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, defined veganism as a “philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”

  • 17. Peugeot e-2008

    17. Peugeot e-2008

    © Peugeot

    Depending on the trim level, the Peugeot e-2008 electric SUV comes with leather effect, cloth or Alcantara seats, but it loses vegan marks for having a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear lever across the range.

  • 16. Volkswagen e-Golf

    16. Volkswagen e-Golf

    © Volkswagen

    The e-Golf isn’t long for this world, with Volkswagen focusing its attention on the all-electric ID.3. Earlier this year, PETA said: “We won’t stop until all car companies use only 100 percent leather-free and vegan interiors.”

  • 15. Volkswagen e-Up

    15. Volkswagen e-Up

    © Volkswagen

    The Volkswagen e-Up is one of the cheapest and smallest electric cars in the UK, but it’s currently unavailable for new car sales. The e-Up is based on a conventional city car. A new ID.1 – codenamed e-Zzity – will go into production in 2025, but will be developed from the ground up as an EV.

  • 14. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

    14. Hyundai Ioniq Electric

    © Hyundai

    The challenge for vegans and campaigners is to change the perception of leather in the marketplace. Man-made materials, such as Alcantara, Sensico and Artico, provide the same feeling of quality as leather, without the negative connotations. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric features a leather-steering wheel as standard, but the Premium model has cloth seats. The Premium SE gets a choice of three leather finishes.

  • 13. Tesla Model S

    13. Tesla Model S

    © Tesla

    The Tesla Model S features a leather-trimmed steering wheel, which prevents it from pushing for a top 10 slot. In 2019, Elon Musk hinted that future models would be leather-free. “There might be the tiniest bit left, I’m not sure, but Model Y, Model 3, I think I’m confident about that,” he told PETA.

  • 12. Tesla Model 3

    12. Tesla Model 3

    © Tesla

    Although the Kinder Cars Index states that the Model 3 features a leather-trimmed steering wheel, the interior is now 100 percent leather-free. This was confirmed in a Tesla tweet in August 2019.

  • 11. Jaguar I-Pace

    11. Jaguar I-Pace

    © Jaguar

    Another car missing from the list is the Porsche Taycan, which can be ordered with a leather-free interior. Race-Tex is a microfibre material partially consisting of recycled polyester fibres. Meanwhile, the floor covering uses Econyl, which is made from, among other things, recycled fishing nets. The Jaguar I-Pace is ranked 11th by Money.co.uk.

  • 10. Honda e

    10. Honda e

    © Honda

    The Honda e boasts one of the nicest cabins we’ve seen in a while. The cloth seats prove that you don’t require leather, the wood-trimmed dashboard looks superb, while digital displays are somehow modern and retro. So far, so vegan. However, a leather-trimmed steering wheel is fitted as standard.

  • 9. Hyundai Kona Electric

    9. Hyundai Kona Electric

    © Hyundai

    Creating a leather-free heated steering wheel is a challenge. In 2019, Elon Musk said: “I believe we were close to having a non-heated steering that’s not leather. There are some challenges when heating non-leather material and also how well it wears over time.” It’s why so many of the cars in the top 50 are marked down for having a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Maybe everyone should wear gloves.

  • 8. Nissan Leaf

    8. Nissan Leaf

    © Nissan

    Even in a car with a 100 percent vegan interior, other components let the side down. Take tyres, which contain tallow, a hard fatty substance made from rendered animal fat. In some parts of the world, Michelin uses stearic acid, which is derived from other sources. However, there’s no guarantee that the tyres will be vegan-friendly.

  • 7. BMW i3

    7. BMW i3

    © BMW

    The BMW i3 is available with Deka cloth seating, but the optional leather-free M Performance steering wheel contains wool. Elsewhere in the interior, 80 percent of the visible surfaces are made from recycled materials or renewable resources.

  • 6. Mercedes-Benz EQC

    6. Mercedes-Benz EQC

    © Mercedes-Benz

    Speaking to PETA, Ola Kallenius, head of Mercedes-Benz, said: “It is our job now to redefine modern luxury by Mercedes. What is for certain is that attractive, contemporary luxury must be sustainable – and sustainably fascinating.”

  • 5. Vauxhall Corsa-e

    5. Vauxhall Corsa-e

    © Vauxhall

    Curiously, although the Vauxhall Corsa-e is ranked fifth, there’s no place on the list for its sister car, the Peugeot e-208. This is odd, when the car is available with leather-effect, cloth and Alcantara seats.

  • 4. Volkswagen ID.3

    4. Volkswagen ID.3

    © Volkswagen

    The new Volkswagen ID.3 features seats with Sumba Flow fabric and ArtVelours microfleece, which makes it vegan-friendly. Unfortunately, a heated leather-trimmed steering wheel comes as standard, so the ID.3 is unable to make it a full house.

  • 3. Polestar 2

    3. Polestar 2

    © Polestar

    Polestar pulls no punches when it describes leather, calling it a ‘meat industry by-product’. It developed WeaveTech as an alternative to leather. “Our care for the environment goes beyond the electric drive chain,” said Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath. “With the Polestar 2, we designed our interior offer to promote and accelerate the shift of the car industry towards leather-free interiors.”

  • 2. Renault Zoe

    2. Renault Zoe

    © Renault

    The Renault Zoe Iconic features seat upholstery made from 100 percent recycled fabric. Meanwhile, the GT Line upholstery combines recycled fabric with synthetic leather. Even the steering wheel is trimmed in synthetic leather. Avoid the Winter Pack, as this features a leather steering wheel.

  • 1. Renault Twizy

    1. Renault Twizy

    © Renault

    Technically, the Renault Twizy is a quadricycle, not a car, but we’ll cut it some slack. For now, it’s the most vegan-friendly ‘car’ you can buy. We suspect the likes of Polestar, Tesla, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz will be at the forefront of a shift towards sustainable and vegan-friendly vehicles in the future.