BMW and Mini models to get ‘vegan interiors’ from 2023

Leather replacement reduces CO2e emissions by 85 per cent

The BMW Group is to launch its first vehicles featuring completely vegan interiors in 2023.

The reduction of CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle of a vehicle is the central goal of the BMW Group on the road to climate neutrality, which is to be achieved by 2050 at the latest.

Material selection has a key role to play in achieving this goal.

Replacing raw materials of animal origin makes a significant contribution to increasing sustainability in vehicle production.

The introduction of a new surface material for steering wheels will see the proportion of vehicle components that contain traces of raw materials of animal origin fall to less than one per cent in the respective BMW and MINI vehicles.

As a result, these materials will now only be found in areas that are not visible to the customer, for example in various waxy substances such as gelatine used in protective coatings, lanolin in paints, tallow as an additive in elastomers and beeswax as a flux for paints.

Uwe Köhler, head of development body, exterior trim and interior at the BMW Group said: “With a steering wheel made from a high-quality vegan surface material, we are fulfilling the wishes of our customers who do not want to make any compromises in terms of look, feel and functionality.

“The innovative material withstands wear and tear caused by abrasion, perspiration and moisture and has all the desirable properties of leather.”

The only distinguishing feature of the new material will be a new grain effect on the steering wheel rim.

The floor mats for various models are made from mono-material, thus avoiding material mixes that are difficult to recycle.

As a result, the BMW Group saves around 23,000 tonnes of CO2 and an additional 1,600 tonnes of waste every year, since the recycled floor mats and waste material are also reused within the production process.

Research and development in the field of secondary raw materials and sustainable materials are a top priority.

Future vehicle generations will offer other attractive alternatives to leather.

The BMW Group is working with start-up companies to develop innovative bio-based materials.

Compared to the synthetic leathers previously used, these result in around 45 per cent lower CO2 emissions.

MirumTM, which is 100 per cent bio-based and petroleum-free, has the potential to mimic all the properties of traditional leather.

Another new material, DeserttexTM, is made from pulverised cactus fibres with a bio-based polyurethane matrix.

With these materials, replacing raw materials of animal origin can be combined with a significant reduction in CO2.

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